So, I saw two memes this week about Veterans. Expected. Veterans Day is coming up. Unfortunately, the memes were being used as a bullying technique.
One was a picture of a wounded soldier walking through a battlefield with this comment: Before you go idolizing some jerk wearing a football uniform disrespecting the national anthem try understanding what that anthem stands for.
Another was a grieving woman beside the open casket of a decorated soldier with this sentiment attached: Tell all the protesters in the NFL to put on this uniform and then they might understand why we stand.
I don’t buy into the ‘sincerity of the message’ because the NFL protest has nothing to do with the military. They know that. They just don’t care.
The second meme was entitled: This is why we stand.
Well, this is why we kneel.
The people of Standing Rock, the people of Flint, The victims of the SC church shooting, The Mississippi church vandalism, Tamar Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Korryn Gaines, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, Walter Scott, Terence Crutcher,….and so on, and so on, etc., etc… There are just too many to count. But the list includes the six officers killed in Texas and the two officers killed in Iowa.
We kneel for injustice.
I choose to kneel because I do not believe honoring heroes –make no mistake, our troops are heroes- is more important than defending victims. I show my love for our troops by imitating them. I’m a civilian-solider. They fight and they die so that all (and by all I mean ALL) Americans can benefit from liberty. If we are not getting that liberty then they fight and die in vain… But not, if I can help it. I don’t have military weapons or training, but I do have a conscience and a voice. You mock their purpose when you use their images to try to silence me.
I choose to kneel because the brave men and women in our Armed Forces are adults who have made a conscious choice, knowing the possible outcomes, including injury and/or death. Though not nearly enough, those men and women receive a paycheck for their service. Five-year-old Kodi Goines and four-year-old Dae’Ann Reynolds didn’t choose to fight a war. They weren’t trained for the horrors they witnessed. The innocence taken from those babies is as disturbing as your insinuation that their lives are less important than symbolism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful those soldiers choose to fight and I am truly sorry for their family’s loss. We will be forever indebted to them, but, that indebtedness does not, for me, supersede doing the right thing.
I choose to kneel because my father, four of my brothers, and numerous family and friends are Vets that no one bothered to stand for. Despite fighting in every war America has engaged in, soldiers of color have never been exempt from racism. They bled and died and showed their patriotism while being treated as less than human (I’m not even going to get into how degrading it is to apply the Anthem’s third verse to them). Their sacrifice demands acknowledgment and respect. Along with the bullets, they have taken abuse and hate and criticism for me. I’ll take a knee for them.
I choose to kneel for homeless Vets who don’t get to make it into pictures because they are hungry and dirty. After serving their country, they are left to beg without their promised benefits. Flip through my blog. I’ve spent time with a couple of them. They’re not nameless faces. Their plight is real to me. I would not be the least bit surprised if some of the people driving by, belittling and calling them names, stand for the Anthem because, you know, the troops…
I kneel because I can. It’s not illegal. It’s not immoral. For me, it’s not wrong. You stand, because it is your right and your choice. I do not judge you or get in your way. (Fyi-wanting to control what other people do is a supremacy-thing.) But, I will not accept your passive-aggressive BS. Yes, passive-aggressive. Yes, BS. People who peddle the idea that kneeling for the National Anthem has anything at all to do with the military are either fighting to hold on to their ‘America is perfect’ image (that’s the passive-aggressive part) or they have no legitimate argument for the real reason we kneel so they throw out something that sounds good (that’s the BS part).
As you roll out your judgmental, name-calling memes, realize it amounts to the petty-people version of stamping your feet and sticking out your tongue like a spoiled rich kid. (Don’t forget to pout.)
I’ve heard it claimed, our Vets fought for my right to protest. I don’t disagree but, I’m not convinced there was much battle-line conversation about the importance of standing during a song. However, I feel very strongly that fighting oppression was a key focus. That would include all oppression…even when you label it patriotism.
As Veterans Day approaches, I would love to see pictures and stories of our heroes…the non-white ones too. Hopefully, the posts will be more about appreciating the troops rather than belittling and using them to further personal agendas.
I know, I’m an optimist.