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.