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Purple Heart Vet to Nat'l Anthem Protesters: Take a Time Out and Get Your S**t Together


Kaepernick Drew Norman
Drew Norman, Thearon W. Henderson/Stringer/Getty Images
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I take being an American very seriously.

I’ve spent years of my life on the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. I spent the last month of my life volunteering as a firefighter participating in rescues and aiding in relief efforts for both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida.

I don’t want any recognition or a pat on the back for any of it. What I want is for my countrymen to feel the way I feel about America and believe in it the way that I do. There is a huge focus right now on the NFL and players kneeling during the national anthem or just refusing to participate completely. My question is: Why?

I understand and respect these millionaires' message, the point they’re trying to make, and why they feel they need to do something to bring awareness to their cause. I respect that, but at what point does the act of protest become the center of attention and then detract from the overall message they're trying to convey?

The same can be said about protesters on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Today, both parties involved in this dumpster fire are syphoning attention away from what we as Americans do best: Take action.

We as Americans are capable of impossible feats; when Americans come together to solve problems, there literally isn’t anything we can’t face and be victorious against.

I honestly hadn’t put a large amount of thought into this subject other than a silent tip of the hat to Alejandro Villanueva for being exactly what I knew he was, a leader and a true American. After being offered this opportunity to voice my opinion more publicly I sat and thought on the subject for a few hours. I searched my heart and I came to the conclusion that while both sides of this argument may be pure of heart and want to see a better America, their methods for bringing this about have become counterproductive.

I’d like to ask a favor of my countrymen: How about all take a time out and do a little self-assessment, asking the simple question, “Am I helping or hurting?” We can be honest about it, and if we’re not helping then let’s get off the bench and get into the good fight.

There are Americans right now that are banking on our ability to come together, unify and move mountains. I met them during Hurricane Harvey in Orange County, Texas. I met them again in Summerland Key and the rest of the Keys in Florida. As I sit here in one of my best friend’s backyards writing this, there are people in Puerto Rico whose lives have been destroyed and turned upside down. They need us to put our differences aside, come together as one people, and solve problems.

Everything I’m saying can be summed up in an anecdote I first heard as a young soldier: Be part of the solution, not the problem.

This is my home. These are my people. I bled for this United States of America. Stand up, and help me show the world what Americans truly are and what we do.

We help people, we take the bad away, we take action, and we never leave our people to fend for themselves. If you’re mad — if you’re speaking venom — then you’re not on my team.

Get your s**t together, guys; people need us. If you see an injustice, go out there and fix it. Come up with a solution. Then again, what would I know? I’m just a dumb grunt with too much war and a soft heart.

View Comments(2 comments)
Chris You bring up some very good points. It is of concern what our military men and women think about these actions. I have family that served, that is serving now, and my children may serve some day. However, I would ask if the author feels that the UNITED States includes people who feel disenfranchised, or marginalized? Does protecting the UNITED States militarily only apply to certain groups? Why can't you back these brothers, sisters, owners, players, and staff who are saying "there is still something wrong"? Aren;t they doing exactly what you ask: being a part of the solution (on the field and off in many cases)?Let's also not conflate flag = miltary = football = anything football players do that I disagree with is an offront to the military and / or the flag. That some people don't like the approach the NFL players - black and white, big and small, owners and players - are taking to bring into severe focus the issue of injustice in this country, is exactly the right thing to bring attention to the real issues that need to be discussed. Systemic racism. Racial profiling and targeting. Severe penalties for blacks vs whites in the criminal justice system (think crack vs opiods problem and the varying approaches). The intolerance of the financial system to loan money to certain minorities or to take rental applications.  Military folks have a right to be pissed about this, and the players have the right to conduct these demonstrations. But you don't have the right to claim it illegal, immoral, for the President to state that they should be fired, or to have the players 'just stop because it offends me'. If the military is truly here to protect us all, they would stand in a bit more solidarity on these issues.