I do not know much about Colin Kaepernick. I am a casual sports fan. I watch football as it is usually cold outside. I'd never even heard of Kaepernick until this controversy.

My initial reaction was, who cares? Some overpaid, pampered athlete sits during the National Anthem and the entire country has their panties in a bunch. Move on. Give it a moment and the next "crisis" will strike.

Then, I saw the image of the wounded Marine in a wheelchair, missing both legs, and lifting his body with his arms to the position of attention for the same National Anthem. Then I thought, we should care dammit. That Marine and thousands of others who donned the uniform gave of themselves to protect this country, that flag, and the anthem.download (1)

That is what this is all about.

Was it too much to ask to stand and recognize that sacrifice?

I was not sure. Freedom of speech is a simple, yet powerful idea. It puts everyone on the same level regardless of social or economic position. In this country, anyone can exercise the same freedom of expression. It does not mean we all have to say the same thing.

Is that what Kaepernick did?

I decided to do what I was taught to do. If you don't know about something, learn about it before forming an opinion. Too bad more people don't engage in that practice.

I did some research into Colin Kaepernick. This is not his first protest. His various social media feeds are full of examples of racially motivated incidents ignored by the media. His statements to the press about his motivation seem both genuine and articulate.

Here's what I also found.

There is a third stanza to the National Anthem. Rarely sung and virtually unknown to most "patriotic" Americans. So if we are to be proud of the lines "land of the free and the home of the brave," we need take notice of some of the other lines;

download (2)

 

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,

 

Perhaps, Colin Kaepernick has done a service to this country. If nothing else, he has people talking.

Some will just march on in lock-step with the 'Rah Rah hurray for 'Merica' attitude but maybe, just maybe, a few will take a moment to dig a little deeper. They may see that there is a problem.

I am often disheartened by the adoration heaped on athletes seemingly out of proportion to their contribution to society. The amount of money they earn gives some a self-indulgent attitude.

But that is a misrepresentation of most athletes. It is the bad boys and girls that generate revenue for the media, not the ones doing good off the playing fields.

Then there are men like Colin Kaepernick. A man who had the courage, or the audacity depending on your point of view, to use the power of sports to spotlight the problem of racism in America.

I do not know that Marine in the wheelchair, but I do know this. He volunteered to serve this country. It cost him a great deal. Yet he willingly defended the Constitution of the United States so that all Americans have the protections of that document.

All Americans, including Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick could just sit back, play football, and enjoy his substantial salary and endorsements. By doing what he did, it is likely he will lose many of those benefits.

I wonder how many of those screaming the loudest would have the courage to do the same thing.

Only seven percent of Americans have ever served in the military. Most Americans enjoy the protections of the constitution because of that small number. You'd never know it by the sound of the multitude expressing outrage.

It's easy to wrap oneself in the flag. Much harder to stand against the tide for something you believe in.

Published by Joe Broadmeadow