Dear Mr. Kaepernick,
Let me open this letter by applauding you for exercising your first amendment rights of protesting, by kneeling during the anthem. However, I have what may be considered some harsh words for you as I share my honest opinion on what you have perpetuated throughout the NFL and now into high school and junior high school football games. I believe your kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful. It’s not just any anthem that you are kneeling for and disrespecting, it’s our great nation’s anthem. A song penned by a patriot who watched as a rag tag group of American rebels fought back the British bombardment at Ft. McHenry in the Baltimore Bay. An anthem that pays tribute to the American rebels, veterans and patriots that have stood for our American freedoms in the face of certain death. When the anthem is sung and our flag is waived before sporting events, it’s meant to be a moment to stop and reflect on the many freedoms we enjoy because of those that have gone before and made it possible.
The anthem pays tribute to the American troops that lost their lives in the many locales of the second World War, such as the beaches of Normandy and the island of Iwo Jima. My grandfather is a World War II veteran and received the Purple Heart for his injuries sustained in the Marianas Islands of Saipan and Tinian between 15 June–9 July 1944. His youngest brother was a prisoner of war in Korea, was reported dead by the Koreans only to be released a year later after having been tortured and kept barely alive in their camps. I served in the United States Air Force from 1999-2003 and endured with so many others, the horror of 9/11 and the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The anthem is sung in honor of those who lost their lives in 9/11, in the twin towers, the pentagon and flight 93, numerous stories of American heroes who stood up and did what they had to do in the face of death.
I acknowledge that there are injustices in our country, some that have been long standing and many of a racial nature. Unfortunately we live in an imperfect world, and many suffer because of it. This letter isn’t meant to paint you in a negative light, my guess is you will never even read this or get word of it, but as a United States Veteran and proud citizen of our country I have to stand up and let you know how disrespectful your antics have been thus far this NFL season. You give our young generation of athletes a negative image and because you are a pro athlete and one who many kids look up to, they see your actions as appropriate and have begun to follow suit. Our nations youth deserve a better example, an example like Pat Tillman, who left everything, his NFL career and millions of dollars to put on the uniform and defend our nation. Pat gave the ultimate sacrifice like so many others, a sacrifice that you spit on when you kneel during the anthem in protest.
Please continue to share your disgust with the injustices that are going on in the world, I’m not saying they aren’t, just don’t disrespect our anthem and those that have given all to ensure you have the right to speak your mind and do the things you do in this country.
Greg W. Stuart
United States Air Force Veteran and proud American