I am a soldier and I am ok with kneeling during the national anthem because this country is more than words sung before a football game. This country is supposed to represent the dreams of the world. It is supposed to be a safe haven for people to share their beliefs. It is supposed to be a land to be free. The land to protest what is wrong. You know, this country began with violent protests. Those people did whatever it took to get the attention of mother Britain. Was it orthodox? Do you think the loyalists believed in what the protesters were doing?
I am not here to tell you how to think. You have the right to your own opinions; how people should act. You are allowed to have your own thoughts about the meaning behind American symbols. But what is not ok is publicizing your opinion, unrelenting in your opinion even when new information is brought forth.
It is easy to be angry when ignorant. Did you know Colin Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million to communities and organizations, and continues to donate even though no team will sign him (http://kaepernick7.com/million-dollar-pledge/). He graduated from the University of Nevada with a 4.0 GPA, something a lot of you did not do. He is not just another stupid human looking for attention. Colin took the risk to bring attention to a problem in our country. He doesn’t want to make America worse. He could have easily hidden in the crowd or behind social media.
Did you know that 724 Americans per 100,000 are incarcerated in America? We lead the world for most people incarcerated. Even Russia has fewer people in jail at 581 people per 100,000! Is this the land of the free? Did you know that 21% of the 2,220,300 people in prison haven’t even had a trial yet? Yes, that means almost a half million people are currently in jail without being proven guilty. Is that the land of the free? Did you know that 38% of prisoners are black even though only 12% of Americans are black? Is that the land of the free?
Seeing those numbers pains me so much. I just want people to be given the chance to succeed and reach their potential. Waking up every day hearing gun shots, seeing red and blue flashing lights, listening to the constant sirens does not help the children succeed in life. Two important things to remember are you become the average of your community and if you spend enough time looking for something you will find it.
So with that said, what does this country actually mean to me? I love America and the opportunities it can provide. Yes, we have problems but that comes with the territory of having a large population where people are free to speak their mind. I love that everyone in America has an opportunity to succeed, just some people have an easier path than others.
‘Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!