I don’t care what you do. I’m a veteran and I don’t care what you do during the national anthem at the beginning of an overpriced and over rated sports event. And here’s why.
Twenty five years ago I took an oath to defend the Constitution and the President from both foreign and domestic enemies. I raised my right hand and fumbled through the words with a platoon of 40 other freshly shaved heads. I understood the Constitution and I understood the First Amendment. My middle class high school had taught me well and I’d recited the pledge of allegiance to the wall more times than I’d been laid before heading off to boot camp. I didn’t sign up for the love of country or the flag. I signed up because there were no jobs, the factories were all gone. College was too expensive, I wanted out of middle America for a while and I wanted adventure. It was my escape. I got out. And I got far more than I ever imagined in the way of adventure, so much so I’d like to give a lot of it back for a decent night’s sleep.
So about that oath. I took my oath and that oath says: ‘…that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;…’ Then the rest prattles on about the President and officers, both of which most enlisted troops either despise or mock at every opportunity. Regardless, that oath is sworn to the Constitution first. Faith and allegiance are given before life and limb to the President or some butter bars, boot Lt. I learned quickly that by enlisting I had given up my right to freedom of expression for the next decade, but that I’d maintained my right to bear arms, day in and day out. After 12 years I turned in my arms and picked up my freedom of speech again. For my purposes here, my freedom of expression.
Back to football. I’m insulted that my service and the life and death of many like me has become a shield of the phony patriots who either never took the oath or have forgotten it’s core purpose- the Constitution. Not one of my brothers or sisters in arms died for a flag or a poorly written and hard to sing patriotic song. My brothers and I didn’t stay on the line to fight for a flag. We stayed on the line for each other; the guy on the right and the guy on the left. We would have stayed on the line for the woman on either side as well. And get ready for this, we stayed on the line for that guy no one was really sure about but was a hell of soldier, even though he was transgender. We didn’t and don’t care. We lived and died for each other and that’s all we care about to this day.
So to say that putting your hand over your heart and singing along while you hope your beer doesn’t get spilled before the song is over is a sign of respect to me is bullshit. If you want to respect me, if you want to respect us then take a knee in our honor and have faith in the Constitution and ‘freedom of speech’ that we defended. Well, we weren’t really defending the Constitution. Lately, I’m more convinced we were defending some corporation’s right to make a lot of money because war is profitable and when the trumpets sound, the poor boys must dance. Sorry, sidetracked. I don’t care if some overpaid brutes take a knee. It’s their right and I do care about that.
They’re standing up, well in this case taking a knee, for what they believe in and that’s pretty damned American to me. And just as they have the right to express themselves, so do you. All I ask is that you don’t use me as your patriotic shield and rubber battle sword. One of the many things I’ve learned over the years and from my time in the service is that those who yell the loudest about the flag are the last to the line and the first to piss themselves when the shit comes in.
If you want to be offended by something in my honor, be offended at an underfunded, poorly administered, and poorly staffed VA health care system. Be offended by the fact that there is such a thing as a ‘homeless veteran’. Channel that anger to stop 22 veterans from committing suicide each day. Find a cause to show a vet you actually give a shit about us instead of showing us your warrior skills on Facebook. Otherwise, and I mean this with all due respect for your rights, shut the fuck up.
Finally, when you’re claiming you’re honoring the troops who have both served and died by standing for the national anthem, take a trip to any military base and watch what happens during morning and evening colors. You’ve never seen soldiers move so quickly as they do when they are trying to find cover during colors to avoid having to stand at attention for two minutes.
A Modern Day GI Joe