I am a kneeler. I intend to kneel until Trump is out of office when “The National Anthem” is played. I don’t care if this loses me jobs or opportunities. Those weren’t doors open anyway.
I kneel because I am a domestic violence survivor, and for years the fans saw no reason to protest the NFL as they protected abusers time and time again. I kneel to protect the right to marry the person of my choosing regardless of gender or sexual identity. I kneel to protect the immigrants in my neighborhood who work hard and want to become a part of the American fabric. I kneel to protect my right of choice. I kneel because our president is more dictator and less leader.
Stop telling me about the sacrifice of the vets. It’s just plain asinine, tired, and frankly pitiful. First off, our tweeter and chief called Neo-Nazi’s “good people.”
Both my grandfather’s fought in WWII as did my great uncle. As a matter of fact, my great uncle was a part of the troops that liberated the camps. He always cracked dirty jokes and seldom spoke about his experience. While as a child he frightened me, now I know he experienced things more horrific than we could ever imagine. To hear Trump call the Neo-Nazi’s “good people” would make him roll over in his grave. It would be disrespectful to the many brave young men who died in combat against the Nazis. Some no older than 18.
Trump does not honor the greatest generation rather he degrades not only their bravery and contributions, but every soldier who bravely served. Both my grandfather’s have their flags up in their hometown. They were called to service and went.
Trump dodged the draft the first chance he got like a prissy rich boy. John McCain served and was captured. I do not always agree with McCain politically but I respect his bravery and journey. I respect the face he struggled with PTSD and made a career for himself in politics after being a POW. If I met him I would shake his hand and thank him for his service.
Some are not so lucky. My ex boyfriend was not one. Actually I would call him my former partner because while we were not engaged we spoke about getting married and starting a home. He loved America and loved the fact he did two tours, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. During one of his tours he was even injured in combat.
During a duty where he was to catalogue the dead for the day, an Iraqi soldier who was playing dead sat up and stabbed him severing an artery in his arm. Although he recovered and still worked, he could never completely straighten it. Like many returning vets, he was unaware of his rights and the United States government found ways to make him unaware of the benefits he was eligible for. He also took advantage of the 6 months of free counseling through the VA, and was put on meds that only made his paranoia worse. Like many young men returning from combat, he fell into drugs but was clean for a substantial time when I met him.
In many ways he was the most wonderful man I could ever ask God for. He was there when I was down and out and didn’t judge me once. Armed with a good sense of humor, he cracked jokes and was lively. Not to mention he loved my puppets and demanded one be named after him.
Like many returning soldiers he was a giver. It’s no accident a great many vets end up as cops or firefighters, as they are professions where not only do they serve but they save. Many of our biggest fights were about him extending kindness and generosity to people who were flat out users.
But he was sick.
This meant mood swings. Psychotic breaks.
Daily tasks were next to impossible. He would keep a job but not for very long. While he would want to work the PTSD made it nearly impossible to get from A to B. Crowded city streets freaked him out as did loud noise. A crowded theatre and long line at a Broadway show meant a cold sweat. Sleep was something that he just didn’t engage in. He couldn’t.
As the psychotic breaks grew closer and closer together and he refused help and medication, I had to end it. There were people who told me I was a bad person for doing so, but it was more humbling when other friends confessed they were worried he would completely go off the deep end and kill me one day. Would he have hurt me? I would like to think no but the episodes were getting more and more unpredictable.
It ended badly as all relationships with the mentally ill who refuse treatment do. There were a million times a day when I had to remind myself that he was sick. It kept me from breaking everything in the room because of his actions. I also told myself his experience was the result of the trauma he suffered in combat, and that hopefully one day he will get the help he desperately needs to be a functional human being.
Currently, my ex is homeless and back on drugs. It’s less about him being a junkie and more about the fact he self medicates for pain and experience we as average Americans could never fathom let alone understand. He is not the exception but unfortunately not uncommon. America sends her troops to die and when they return too damaged to function they are on their own. And then when they end up on the street or in the correctional system we respond by telling them to “get it together.”
Once, shortly after I ended things with my ex, a vet was begging for change. He had returned from Iraq and lost his leg. I gave him a dollar. A man with a thick Southern accent said they were mercenaries just sent to die and there was no reason we should give them money at any time. It took every nerve in my body not to punch him. My bet is he stands for The National Anthem.
We freely make fun of the mentally ill in this country but we would never do that to someone with cancer. Because we don’t believe people with cancer deserve their fate even if they smoked 20 packs of cigarettes a day. Yet I have heard people call combat vets murderers and say they deserve their PTSD.
I have also heard people joke about mental illness. They make fun of people who have hallucinations, psychotic breaks, and mood swings. Crazy is a word we throw around casually. Once you know someone who suffers from a mental health issue, crazy becomes a word that is outright cruel. Because that “crazy” person might be a vet who is trying their best to get through the day.
Standing for the Anthem is your choice. However, don’t use the vets as an excuse for your bigotry and hate. Don’t use their sacrifice and their continual suffering as an excuse to silence the free speech of others. Don’t use the dead soldiers to denigrate the players. Many are young, black men who didn’t come from much but had the brains and ambition to use their athletic talent to get an opportunity, education, and better life for themselves and their families.
And I repeat, none of you would probably talk to a vet let alone help a homeless one. Trump is exploiting the vets shamelessly and has since he decided to run for office. He will throw them under the bus first chance he gets. Trump is also starting wars and will send more young men and women to die, or to come back damaged into a system that doesn’t support them.
So if you care about America and the vets, don’t stand. I will be taking a knee for a while it looks like.