Colin Kaepernick and Paid Patriotism


Paid Patriotism: The Dept of Defense paid this professional sports team with American tax dollars so that this Flag could be displayed over the field by members of the military.

In the United States today it has become almost a cliche to say to those who are serving or have served, “thank you for your service.”

I tell people I would prefer not to have that said to me. To me it’s just another way in which the government has taken something I did, not them and has used it as a recruitment tool to encourage others to join up and I feel that’s wrong. I wondered where this term came from or if I was the only one who felt this way about being thanked.  Prior to 911 I had never been thanked for my service and I was perfectly alright with that.

It turns out, I’m not the only one.  When I am thanked it feels phony and often self-serving from the thankers; it’s more like a reflex action. It also suggests that I did it for them, which of course couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reasons for serving are different for each of us who did. Most of us, certainly for me, the last reason I did it was for my country.

We see signs everywhere today that say we Support our Troops; what does that mean exactly?  Turns out the Iraq War that eighty-three percent of the American people supported on opening day was a bad idea and today most people including those who voted for it, say it was a bad idea.

However those who voted for it didn’t have to experience it firsthand. For them admitting it was a mistake cost them nothing; not even votes. But for those they sent, it cost them their lives, limbs, and for many their families.

Since Sept 11, 2001 the American people have shown a strong deification or hero worship of the military. Historically the deification of the military happens when a country has lost it moral bearing and is floundering in a sea of change where the people feel they have lost their identity.

The military becomes that identity and the people who belong to it are treated as heroes, with rock star status. Because of this San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has received a lot of negative press and it seems even death threats for exercising his First Amendment Right of free speech.

Every one of us who served in the military took the same oath and that oath said that we would support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It didn’t say what part of the Constitution we would defend or that we could pick and choose what part. Therefore according to the oath I took Mr. Kaepernick is exercising a right guaranteed to him and to all of us.

Those who chastise or threaten his life for what they feel is dishonoring the National Anthem, his country, or members of the military are the ones dishonoring the Anthem, their country, and those who have served their country in the military, those men and women who have sworn the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

It should also be noted that prior to 2009 professional football players stayed in the locker room until after the National Anthem was played. Since then the United States Government has paid the NFL to have players stand in public during the National Anthem; paid them with the tax dollars of the American worker.  The Department of Defense felt that this would be helpful for military recruitment purposes.

In fact it turns out that The Department of Defense paid out at least $6.8 million in taxpayer money to professional sports teams to honor the military at games and events over the past five years.

The New Jersey Army National Guard paid the New York Jets $115,000 to recognize soldiers at home games while the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens each received at least $500,000 for similar activities over that span.

I had always been uncomfortable watching pro sports and seeing them honor the military in this way. To me it just seemed like another recruitment tool while simultaneously hero worshipping the military.

However I until now at least assumed it was the owner’s of these teams showing their patriotism by spending some of their money to honor military families. I am ashamed to be an American having now realized these professional sports team where only honoring these people because the Department of Defense was paying them with the tax dollars of American workers. Workers who now had to purchase tickets to get in to the parks to watch entertainment they had unknowingly already paid for.

So instead of being upset with Colin Kaepernick exercising his Constitutional rights perhaps we should be asking ourselves if the owners of these teams will be returning the hard earned tax dollars of American workers. At best Americans should be outraged at this practice and demand from their representatives that it be shut down.

Professional sports get enough from the American worker with ticket prices and sales at their stadiums without this sad pretense at patriotism!

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