A Differing Point of View, from a Veteren

“I’ve seen a lot of posts over the last 24 hours regarding “respecting the flag” and what that means…and how athletes who use their public forum to voice dissent are somehow “unpatriotic”. I want to offer a different opinion.

My father is buried at the foot of the flagpole in Golden Gate National Cemetery. He landed at Normandy, fought at the Battle of the Bulge and liberated Nazi camps in Germany. His enemy was fascism. I served as a Green Beret in the early 1970s (pretty sure you all know what that entails). Our enemy at the time was communism. My son is currently a serving officer in the Army, who on his dress blues wears the Bronze Star he was awarded during a year-long tour in Afghanistan. His enemy is and was the Taliban and the threat of terrorism.

Three generations of my family, serving the USA, in harms’ way. Three vastly different enemies, but enemies who shared one common trait. ALL of them stifle free speech. All of them bully, degrade and terrorize those who hold opposing views and who peacefully express them. All of them are intolerant and demand “loyalty” to the leader.

I can tell you, speaking for three generations of my family, it is PRECISELY for men like Kaepernick, and his right to peacefully protest injustice, that we were willing to serve. There is NOTHING more respectful of our country than living up to its ideals. There is nothing more patriotic than to say “I’m concerned with injustice, and will use my position to try and address it.”

Want to know what’s unpatriotic? Using your white privilege to avoid serving, citing “bone spurs in the heel” while playing varsity tennis at college while others went. Want to know what is antithetical to American values? Using the most powerful pulpit in the land to incite violence — against ANYONE. Want to define disgraceful behavior? Denigrating a man like Senator John McCain’s service and heroism while you sat home.

Want to respect the American flag? Then respect the ideals for which it stands. Bullying language and calling peaceful protesters “sons of bitches” who should be fired aren’t among them.

p..s. Anyone wishing to share this, please feel free.”

Michael Sand

Monroe, CT ·

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