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Like the rest of us, I’ve seen many, many posts about the NFL, Colin Kaepernick, and the National Anthem lately — what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s disrespectful. More or less, it’s just a lot of civilians telling veterans to feel disrespected, and a lot of veterans coming out in support of those who are exercising their right to a peaceful protest.
That’s exactly what taking a knee is: a silent way to attempt to bring attention to a situation in which many people feel helpless. I’ve seen both sides of the argument, and I get it. People who have lost loved ones to war feel offended by anyone who takes a knee during the Anthem because they lost someone important to them fighting to defend the flag. People who take a knee during the Anthem are trying to bring attention to the injustices that many people are facing in this country every day.
Nobody can fully understand either side without enduring their pain. I can only fully understand one side, but still, I can empathize with the other. I have never lost a loved one to a routine traffic stop, and chances are I never will. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that anyone who has must feel, though, and for that reason, I will never hesitate to take a knee with them.
My brother didn’t die in combat. He died on his own battlefield, six years after he came home from his second tour in Iraq. If he were here today, he would tell you that the rights to free speech and peaceful protest are some of the most important things he fought for.
Nobody is disrespecting veterans by exercising the rights they are dying to protect. What is disrespectful is letting them die in vain by silencing those whose rights they died for.