Excuse me please, I have something I feel is important to say, and I respectfully ask for your patience and attention for a few moments as I attempt present it to you in a respectful manner. I would also ask that you give it your full consideration before responding, hopefully also respectfully.
A few weeks ago, a huge portion of our country became outraged over a black athlete choosing to take a knee during the performance of our national anthem at a sporting event.
Those of us that listened to his 20-minute interview afterwards explaining why, were left wondering why those same people weren’t equally or more outraged about the reasons behind his silent, peaceful, protest as they were about his method of delivering his message.
In the weeks that followed we have seen the peaceful protest spread to athletes and coaches of other teams, other sports, other leagues, and other age groups. We have begun to see non-black people protesting in the same manner.
We have even seen a black female member of our military join the protest, only to lose her security clearance and be threatened with imprisonment for doing so.
The point of the protest, according to the man that launched this current iteration of it, is that he cannot bring himself to join those as they stand, salute the flag, and sing the anthem, until those symbols represent more than the empty promise of freedom, liberty, and equality for all of its citizens instead of just some. He couldn’t bring himself to join in as we pay homage to a symbol of ideals that many soldiers have fought and died for when those veterans are mistreated and discarded by the government they served if they manage to make it home.
In response he received death threats and other backlash by people wielding racism disguised as false patriotism in an attempt to shut him down and silence him. Those people decided that they would make his message about race and racism instead of about equality and fairness, and to do so they’d have to ignore his commentary about the mistreatment of veterans so they could claim that he was being disrespectful to those veterans by using his status and money to protest on their behalf.
As a man from a long lineage of military veterans of many wars, as a man who worked from here in the states to deliver relief packages to soldiers in the original Desert Shield efforts, as a man who has spent much of his adult life working on military bases in support of our troops, I can tell you that not one soldier I know of was fighting for the symbols of freedom, but were instead fighting to protect the ideals those symbols represent and to help more people realize the availability of those ideals.
I believe every one of them would fight to protect those that have found the willpower and desire to continue fighting for those ideals in a peaceful, non-violent way, before they would fight to support enforced compliance and fealty through threat.
I believe those that choose to take a knee and silently decline to join in until the ideals our nation was built upon, and those symbols supposedly represent, are a reality, instead of an empty promise of false hope, to each and every one of our citizens are showing the utmost respect to those soldiers and their families that have sacrificed their time, relationships, physical and mental health, lives and loved ones to defend and protect. Certainly more respect than those throwing those ideals out the window to create a fascist implementation of forced compliance in direct contradiction to the reasons those sacrifices were made.
Knowing the words to Francis Scott Key’s entire song “Defense of Fort M’Henry” from which “The Star Spangled Banner” was excerpted, I have always thought it to be a poor choice as our National Anthem.
So, personally, from now on, when presented with the opportunity, I will join the protestors in my own way, by taking a knee with them. I will not sing along. I will still place my hand, or remove my hat and place it, over my heart, and use the duration of the song to offer silent thanks and payers to and for those that have sacrificed, or will sacrifice, so much for the progress we have made so far, and I will stand and join in when we’ve obtained them.
When my children, who have been raised to honor and respect those ideals as well, ask me why I am doing what I am doing, I will answer them, with the information here, and allow them to make their own choices. And I will honor and respect their choice because it will be one that is from knowledge and understanding of what they feel is right.
I anxiously await the day that we can all stand together, until then I will join those doing the fighting to get us there, instead of those going through the motions while pretending we have nothing left to achieve, or those that would prefer to silence the ones striving to get there to maintain their own privilege.