On September 1st, 2017, I was afforded the honor of being a member of the flag detail for a colleague’s retirement ceremony. After more than 24-years of active service in the US Navy he decided that it was time to hang up the uniform. For me it was a reminder that there has not been a draft in over 40-years, and that everyone who has served since that time has chosen to serve for one reason or another. And my role on this day reminded me that the flag itself is a precious symbol of what we believe and stand for.
But then I thought about something that has garnered quite a bit of attention over the past year — the act of sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. And my BLOG, as I promised myself (and the public affairs folks of the Navy), would refrain from discussing political topics. So I will keep this short, sweet, and ABSOLUTELY free from bias.
Colin Kaepernick of NFL fame decided that he would not stand during the national anthem during the 2016 season. On August 14th and 20th of that year, he was not in uniform and essentially went unnoticed, but then on August 26th, #7, in his 49ers Red and Gold could be seen sitting by the Gatorade table, all alone.
Others have now followed suit. Either sitting or kneeling during the anthem.
Our country has been disturbed to say the least. There are those defending Kaepernick for his actions, proclaiming that he is refusing to stand because he wants our country to get better (we all want that). That his actions are a call to break down the barriers that separate us.
I agree with his beliefs in terms of us needing to do something, but I do not believe that not standing during the anthem gets us any closer to creating lasting change. Last I checked, kneeling does nothing more than put pressure on one’s patella. It hardly symbolizes unity.
To create change Colin should consider knocking on people’s doors. Talking to our citizens about the problems we have. The racism that persists. The racial profiling that occurs. The difference between his multi-million dollar paychecks for playing sports, and the measly minimum wage paychecks that the majority of our citizens are expected to persist on.
The flag and the national anthem have done nothing wrong. They did not cause these problems. We, the people who are here because of the flag are the ones who have created all of this pain and suffering. I abhor the prejudice and racism that persists (my own father-in-law holds prejudice against myself and my daughters because of my heritage), but I am not going to start kneeling, or sitting, because of him. I won’t stop saluting the flag because that would be ignorant.
While I am friends with a few men in the NFL, I don’t know Colin Kaepernick, but I wish I did because I would love to talk with him. I would tell him to start going door-to-door. To sit down at the dinner table and have a PURPOSEFUL CONVERSATION with the people of our nation. I would tell him that the flag did not hurt him, and that it has not hurt anyone. That he should not blame the flag or the national anthem for our countries problems.
Last I checked, the flag does not speak, but you and I, and so many others do.
SALUTE, STAND, ACKNOWLEDGE. But don’t disgrace something that has provided you freedom and millions of dollars. That is what I would tell him.
If you want CHANGE to happen, then take OWNERSHIP, and give it no other choice.