Unless you have been under a rock & have stayed away from any social media outlet this weekend you have probably heard about Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the National Anthem.
Kaepernick stated :
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder”
Almost immediately a storm of responses from both sides both for and against his action arose which was a bit of surprising to me given that I believed he had valid reasons why not to do it. Ignoring the racist responses[which they were plenty] he received the one type of response he got which struck me was that this act was somewhat unpatriotic and showed a lack of respect for veterans.
A great quote by Mark twain in this situation:
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it”
All over facebook, twitter and message boards “patriots” from across the country were breaking their necks to tell the world how not standing up for an anthem, which I won’t give a history lesson about [but you can go here to read more] was practically treasonous. As a physician and public health professional I couldn’t believe this sudden outpour for veterans, not because they don’t deserve it but why on earth were they making whether a person raises their hand [see Gabby Douglas] or stand up in Colin’s case the straw that broke the camel's back. If a person had no arms or legs you wouldn’t penalize/ridicule/disrespect them for not raising their hand or standing up for the anthem so don’t act like that is some deal breaker for veteran support. We have to stop drawing these lines in the sand with issues of oppression against the black citizens of this country and those who are using our veterans as props to spew their disregard should be ashamed of themselves, ESPECIALLY when any other day they don’t even mention them.
Here are just a few of the reasons why I am scratching my head at all this “outrage”: Did you know that…
- Veteran suicide rates are on the rise among returning service members
- Veterans are more likely to be unemployed than their civilian counterparts
- Veterans are returning with serious mental health issues
- One-in-five female veterans have post-traumatic stress related to “military sexual trauma,” which includes everything from sexual harassment to rape
- Veterans returning from war ending up homeless
- Veterans are returning back with life altering injuries
I wholeheartedly disagree with those who think standing up or raising your hand for the national anthem is a way to “support our veterans”, especially when they are dealing with one if not a combination of the ailments I listed. I don’t believe that they really care about veterans because if they did they would be in a constant state of outrage because of how they are treated when they return. Just doing some research on the national anthem you would know that it’s original intent was never to celebrate ALL veterans, just the white males, so why should it be some far fetched notion that till this day there is still oppression in the USA on everyone else.
“Well so what do we do Dr. Berry?”
Here is just a short list of organizations that you should start supporting today, if your true goal is supporting the veterans. Let’s start “walking the walk”, “putting pen to paper”, “pedal to the medal” or whatever idiom you want to use to actually put action together. If there is an organization that I didn’t list then please add it to the comments for others to know about. In fact in the comments the organization you vote(put in the comment section) the most I will donate $100 for, the mini contest will be over at the end of September.