So this is what happens. Briefly, some background.
I have loosely followed the Kaepernick saga since Colin decided to sit for the national anthem. Colin was protesting racial inequality I guess, in as much as a guy making millions apparently felt like he wasn't getting a fair shake. So it was that this week I read an article wherein Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Raven great, explained why Colin Kaepernick can't find a job in the NFL. According to Lewis, Kaepernick's girlfriend apparently likes to run her virtual mouth on twitter in addition to her day job. A racist tweet from her caused Ravens' management to drop any thought of signing Kaepernick. After reading this, I believe Ray Lewis is probably correct. https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/ravens/2017/09/06/ray-lewis-ravens-backed-off-colin-kaepernick-after-girlfriends-tweet/636586001/
The other odd thing that happened is that I read that false letter on Facebook- attributed to the Kansas City Chief's owner- in which he demands that his players and staff all stand and respect the national anthem or he will fire them. Suspecting this was bullshit, mostly because of contracts and pussified owners, a quick check or two proved the letter was indeed, false. I also read where a few people refuse to watch pro football and are boycotting it. In all likelihood, these were not fans to begin with.
When I say odd things, I use the term "odd" because I find it strange that I have not been able to find a writer anywhere who can articulate with any level of precision- what the real issue is.
I'm not talking about residual racism or using the wrong venue to protest. I think we can agree on those things. This brings me to the topic du jour.
The study of the duties and rights of citizenship or civics. We attended civics class. We said the pledge of allegiance every morning.
I was a child of the Vietnam War. My uncle fought in it and my father, a rural news anchor, reported on it. The Vietnam War was unpopular and still remains so. The problem was that whether we agreed with the war or not- real friends and family were dying in it- some 58,000 souls.
That is where my reverence for our country began. Real people, many volunteering and getting wounded or killed, in a war with no support. Who would sign up for that?
Our country was made up of patriots. We attended civics classes. We believed in the mission of America and all of the opportunities we were given. We believed this was a great place to live and we had gratitude. So people signed up. They shouldered that duty and responsibility.
The Vietnam War probably changed our opinions of leadership forever. What it didn't change was the definition of a patriot. A patriot loves his country but a patriot doesn't have to love his government. In fact, some of our most famous patriots detested government and they died proving it. But the patriot spirit lives here.
So we can debate wars and inequality forever. What is not subject to debate is that hundreds of thousands of Americans that have been wounded and killed protecting our way of life.
That is the same way of life that allows me to speak here. That is the same way of life that allows Mr. Kaepernick a college education and a job making millions to play a game. One of the luckiest people on the planet, rich by every measure, born in a country where his physical skills mean big bucks. In another place, Colin's skills would probably go un-noticed.
When I hear the national anthem and see our flag, I think of our war wounded and dead. I think of all of the fallen police officers and funerals I have attended. Flags draped over coffins, bagpipes, widows and children crying or bewildered. The thought of disrespecting all those people who have sacrificed so much- while enjoying all of the freedoms and opportunities those sacrifices have given me- never enters my mind.
In uniform I stand and salute. As a citizen, I stand, I take off my hat and I place my hand over my heart. I do that to honor the dead and all of the gifts I have been given because of those folks. Standing at attention and showing some respect takes very little effort.
I do that I think because I was given all of those gifts including a civics class- where we discussed all of those issues. That is where I formed my opinions of patriotism, reverence for our dead, and a sense of gratitude.
I can't help but think that Colin might have had a different view of things had he been given an opportunity to discuss and debate the merits of citizenship within the confines of a civics class while an un popular war raged on.
I'm not upset with Mr. Kaepernick. In a way I am sorry that he did not get the same education that our generation received. If he had, I think he would still be playing football.