As an American combat veteran, a true patriot (not Patriots fan), and strong advocate for Freedom, Liberty, and the basic Right to retain these things, I’ve been wanting to write about and discuss this issue for a while now.
But perhaps it took the President’s own ignorance to stir up the angry veteran inside of me just enough to go ahead and raise my voice.
Kneeling during the National Anthem, by overpaid athletes, in protest for equality.
Holy Hell, we’ve got ourselves a baited topic now, don’t we?
The National Anthem, Equality, Social and Racial injustice, 1st Amendment rights, Patriotism, Respect, Peaceful Protesting, and good old fashioned Blue Collared Stubbornness.
Seems like it should just work itself out, right?
Wellll… horseshit. We can’t even agree on pass interference, holding or if he actually caught the ball or not, let alone basic human rights.
Even still, throughout this whole heated headliner, I was hoping that common sense and decency would prevail. But unfortunately, that’s sort of like hoping for the Bengals to get their shit together and play good, solid, fundamental football.
It just ain’t happening…
More people have their under britches in a bunch about this than they do about our own Government’s abuse of power, or killing of innocent people. Please don’t diss our anthem, flag or country, but go ahead and steal my money, lock me up, and beat me with your badge.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I have my own emotional connections to this issue as well. But if it wasn’t in your face and broadcast live every week through a twisted and agenda based media, would you even care?
Which brings me to a more basic, freedom driven argument.
Has anyone ever heard of the 1st Amendment? Raise your hand if you know what it says…
Well, according to Google (and Google doesn’t lie. Ever.) it states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The first change to the Constitution guaranteed our right to protest (peacefully) against things that we do not see as fair and just. The 1st Amendment promises us the right to have a voice, to have an opinion, and to speak out when we feel that we as a citizenry have been wronged, abused, oppressed, or treated in a way that goes against our own beliefs.
People, this is a RIGHT that is absolute by the very standard that you are trying to defend.
Alright, let’s break off into a passionate (civil) uproar about professional athletes “seemingly” disrespecting our National Anthem.
Does it piss me off?
Yeah, maybe on the surface, as I was always taught to stand, remove my hat, face the flag or music, salute, and give my full attention and respect to the symbol that stands for our Great Nation and those who have fallen to preserve it.
So yes, on the surface, it pisses me off.
But if we outlawed everything that bothered or upset us, then what freedoms would we really have?
As I look deeper into what is actually happening… not just assuming that these people do not care about what the Flag and National Anthem stand for… when I look at what is truly happening — People being upset about an issue and peacefully protesting their grievances — I can’t help but to feel a sense of pride, a sense of power and appreciation that they are using a right that I chose to go to war to defend.
Let me say that again, as a combat veteran, a volunteer serviceman, as a patriot of what our country stands for… God damn it, I’m fucking thrilled that we have the ability to stand up for, and protest the issues that we feel are unjust.
Alright, so now that I’ve pissed some people off, let me express my feelings further.
Quite frankly and honestly, I joined the Marines to fight against oppression, to fight for freedom, to fight for those who could not, and to give a chance, a voice, to those who did not already have one.
So how in the hell can you expect me to rip apart these men and women who are validating the very right that I chose to defend?
What kind of hypocrite would I be if I said that I believe full-heartedly in freedom, and am willing to fight and die for it… but only if that freedom does not offend me??
Quite simply, just because something is offensive, disrespectful, or makes me mad… it does not outweigh the freedom that we have to express that opinion, or have it, in the first place.
Alright, so do I find it disrespectful?
I mean, perhaps. Yes. I don’t know.
Look, I get the emotional connection. I understand why there are those who are so pissed off. Trust me, I WANT to be, too. But I just can’t, in good faith, blast them for doing something that is their absolute right to do.
And honestly, it would be a complete different set of circumstances if they were burning or stomping and spitting on the flag (though warranting a swift kick to the jaw, they would still be expressing a Constitutionally protected right).
So what is respectful?
Why is standing respectful? We kneel when we pray? We bow our heads to speak to God, yet we must stand tall and look high when the colors are flying??
Can we still be respectful even when we go against the social norm? Or better yet, could we be completely disrespectful while we are doing what is considered respectful? (Any minds blown yet?)
Here’s something truthful for your back pocket, the things that we do to show respect are absolutely subjective.
Let me explain. I’ve never been a fan of wearing fancy clothes. But I have been taught that it is respectful to wear these fancy clothes to church, weddings, funerals, elegant places and important events… but, just because I show up to your sermon in my torn jeans and cut off shirt, it doesn’t mean that I do not respect what you are saying, or Jesus, or God, or Religion.
That is your opinion, not mine. I’m simply wearing what I am comfortable in and here to pay my respects with a good heart and honest mind. But you’re over here judging me for my outfit… not my intentions.
So this is my point… these men and women who are peacefully protesting by taking a knee, or what-have-you, during the National Anthem… are their intentions to be disrespectful, or to bring attention to an important issue of unequal treatment in a country that boasts Freedom and Liberty for all?
I get it. You think that they should just play the sport that they are over payed to play and leave politics out of it. Okay. That’s your opinion. But they are American citizens who have every right to voice their concerns just as you do. Right? Or do they give up that right because they are rich and famous???
There has been so much anger directed at these protests. Hell, even the President added his two cents. But, when it comes down to it, shouldn’t we, as Freedom loving Americans, feel proud that our fellow Americans are using their rights to bring attention to an issue that they feel so passionate about?
I don’t know. But I do. I’m proud that we have the right to speak up. I am proud that we have a Constitution that promises our basic rights. I am proud that we are able to stand up for what we believe in.
And damn it, I am proud that we can bring attention to monumental issues by doing such a small, peaceful, passionate gesture.
If you want to bitch and moan about something, then maybe we should talk about inequality all over this free country. From every race, minority, ethnic background, creed, belief, religion, and ideal. Our freedom to life, liberty and happiness are contested every single day. Why are we not outraged and doing more to change that?
You know what, if we do not exercise our freedoms, not matter how mad it might make someone, then do we even deserve them?
We are so stuck in the emotions of someone doing something different, that we can’t even talk about the reason that they are doing it.
We are actually angry that someone is standing up against something that they feel is oppressive, prejudice, and intolerant. And we hurl stones at them for taking a stand (kneel). And we chastise them for being the minority. We hate them for making a stir. And we try to silence them while they are in protest about how they are being treated.
And damn it, THAT is un-American.
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