(copy from my Facebook post)
Note to everyone up in arms about #takeAKnee:
I come from a ~strong~ military family with a strong military tradition.
- My brother is a Marine veteran
- My brother-in-law is a Navy veteran
- My father is a Navy veteran
- My grandfather (father’s side) was a WWII Army veteran and POW who fought in the European Theater
- My grandfather (mother’s side) was a WWII Army veteran who fought in the Pacific Theater
- My nieces have spouses who Serve
- Two of my nephews are Marines Reserve
- I have, for the past 17 years, been an IT consultant for the DoD, Army National Guard, Navy, and other government agencies.
- My essay on Patriotism has been published in a college textbook, alongside essays by Obama, Ron Paul, and others.
Why the background? So you understand when I say what follows, it comes with some “street cred.”
Patriotism doesn’t belong to veterans. Only 7.3% of US citizens have Served in any branch of service. As my brother, Russell Sparks, said to me today, patriotism has been “hijacked as if the anthem and the flag is only about veterans.”
We are all proud and humbled by the Service our active duty and veteran Service members – but their Service does not make them more patriotic or deserving than the other 92.7% of us who have not served. We don’t define patriotism solely by strength of military or Service therein. It’s not the military that makes America great.
Patriotism is not idolatry
Patriotism is not idolatry of our armed forced and those who Serve. The Anthem and the Flag belong to all of us. They are not the symbols of a warrior caste – but are the symbols of all American citizens.
This means the activist who burns the Flag as political speech has just as much right to do so as you do to face it and place your hand over your heart. That activist is not disrespecting the Flag or the Armed Forces.
The NFL players who kneel in non-violent protest during the Anthem are just as free, just as patriotic, and just as righteous as you when they do so. The flag belongs to them and if they choose to express a political opinion by kneeling it is their right to do so. Just as it is yours to face it and place your hand over your heart.
You don’t have to like it but if you truly respect and understand what it is to live in a free country you MUST accept it. Any attempt to squash, restrict, or abolish the right is to take away the very freedoms you worship the military for protecting.
Our Service members and veterans did not Serve so you can place the flag above freedom. They Served so you can burn the flag without fear of imprisonment, even as they find the practice distasteful.
They Served so NFL players can kneel during the Anthem to protest and highlight police brutality and racial inequalities in our country.
You, who insists that Flag and Anthem idolatry are required, are actually the people disrespecting the symbols of our freedom.
In my opinion, you embarrass those who Serve and show an astounding lack of understanding of what our Freedoms actually mean.