Every day I wake up and thank God I was born in the greatest country on earth. The United States of America is the greatest country on earth where people of all religions, cultures and races can come and live the American dream. The second thing I thank God for is the men and women of the United States military. Because of them, we enjoy the daily freedoms and privileges we have. Without them, the world would not be secure, and we would not be a free and prosperous nation. So many lives were interrupted during World War II, to fight back against a tyranny of unspeakable evil.
Because of the men and women of the United States military, a boy named Colin Kaepernick from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will grow up to be a professional quarterback in the National Football League.
Before I continue, let me assert that I understand why Mr. Kaepernick is protesting. He has a constitutional right to protest that is protected and fought for every single day by the men and women of the United States military. It concerns me that we are at a point in our country’s history when professional athletes feel they have to disrespect the national anthem to draw awareness to their cause, we should all try to find solutions to race relations in America.
To be fair, some African Americans are sadly the victims of blatant racism. However, as a professional athlete who makes 19 million dollars per year, kneeling during the national anthem or sitting is disgraceful and repulsive, especially on September 11th.
I would ask Mr. Kaepernick or any of the other men who sat or kneeled on 9/11 if they have ever considered if they were in the position of the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters of those who were killed on September 11th? Have you men thought about what it must feel like as a family member or loved one of a victim to see a professional athlete who makes millions of dollars sit on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in the history of America during the national anthem?
The answer is no, you probably haven’t. At what point does a black lives matter argument give you the authority to disrespect the entire country, the entire military, or the thousands of men and women who died preserving the words of The Star Spangled Banner?
So to all those who refuse to stand understand this, there are men and women who physically cannot stand when the national anthem is played, because they gave up their legs protecting your right to protest the American flag.
The next time any of you disrespect the national anthem and the flag I want each of you to think about the victims and the families of 9/11. Think of the men and women who return from war with PTSD, with anti war protests. Think of the men and women who return without a job, without a home. Think of the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.
After you have taken all of these things into consideration ask yourself if protesting the national anthem of the United States is really and truly helping bridge race relations. Or is it just encouraging more protests across America. If you really wish to improve race relations, why not donate some of your very extensive salary to organizations that fight this “oppression” you speak of.
Over the past few months I have spoken with several military veterans. I have listened to their stories, heard their personal heartbreak. Every time I finish interviewing a veteran my respect for them deepens. They are true heroes, that deserve our never-ending respect.
I hope each of you that protest will remember these things that I have mentioned the next time you sit as the national anthem is played. No social justice argument justifies the disrespect of our flag or veterans or our American way of life.
I will remain eternally grateful to our heroes, and our flag.
That is why I stand.
Joseph Duncan is a graduate of Cumberland Gap High School and is now a student at LMU.