Kaepernick’s Actions are Very American
“And where is that band who so valiantly swore, that the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion a home and a Country should leave us no more?
“Their blood was wash’d out their foul footstep’s. No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave, and the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
The above quotations are the third stanza to the unedited version of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Many Americans know the less controversial version that is sung at sporting events. But fewer probably know the complete version.
The real words of the poem might bring more into context Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand at attention while the song is played.
People will say that he should stand because of the soldiers who fought and died for America, and that he would not have his freedom if it were not for them.
Soldiers are absolutely heroes and deserve high praise.
I have had family members serve this country in World War II, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, with a great uncle dying for America in World War II.
The truth of the matter is that soldiers fought for Kaepernick to be able to sit during the national anthem if they truly fought for our freedom, because the First Amendment gives citizens freedom of speech, expression and religion.
Family members of mine have given their lives to this country at war and in no way as a relative of brave soldiers do I think of Kaepernick as unpatriotic or un-American.
As a matter of fact, it is the most American thing in a long time. His freedom to protest is as American as apple pie. Those who have a quarrel with it must really have a quarrel with the freedom they love so much.
However, let us be clear. Everyone that puts on a uniform does not do so to protect the freedom of Americans.
In the book “The Snowden Files” by Luke Harding, it was reported that Edward Snowden was dismayed, after he joined the service after Sept. 11, that some of his fellow soldiers had only joined the military in order to legally murder people and get away with it.
To me, those people with that mindset are not heroes and did not fight for me.
Furthermore, the unedited “Star-Spangled Banner” poem by Francis Scott Key praises slavery and the death of Black slaves and that somehow is the national anthem of a country that is supposed to be inclusive of all people regardless of their race.
Key wrote that controversial stanza after a Black brigade, who fought for the British after their freedom was promised for doing so, beat his troops.
The poet believed that African-Americans were inferior, but as a good Christian believed slaves should be treated fairly.
After losing in battle to a so-called inferior race, he wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
While I would not sit during the national anthem as a form of protest because journalism and commentary are my weapons of protest, as an African-American a national anthem that originally was pro-slavery makes me conflicted.
The words of the “Star-Spangled Banner” represent a contradiction that has always existed in American society.
America loves to brag about its freedom, while at the same time it condoned the enslavement of many African-Americans.
The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, while its author Thomas Jefferson had many slaves as a part of his investment portfolio.
When I read Key’s poem that talks about the blood of slaves and the gloom of the grave, I cannot help but think of all of the blood that has been shed recently because of police brutality.
When I read his poem, I cannot help but think about the countless civil rights activists who gave their lives for Black people to experience the freedom that White people received from the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
When I read this poem and hear the hatred and evil racism that has been hurled at Kaepernick, I understand his position.
I would have chosen a different route, but his route does not need my approval.
While America is by far the best country in the world, it is not without faults.
The history lessons we were taught as children were really half-truths to represent a more glamorous view of our country.
It is just funny when people like Kaepernick learn true history, they are seen as unpatriotic and infidels.
I like to call them well educated and well informed on the issues, whether I agree with the method of protest or not.
Ultimately, I thought we had the right to learn the truth and speak the truth in the land of the free and home of the brave.