With Nike deciding to feature former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, as part of their new “Just Do It” ad campaign, many service members have taken to social media to express their support for Kaepernick’s right to free speech.
I will continue to wear my NIKE ARMY boots,because like my fellow soldiers and those who have served before me, we ARE NOT disrespected by Kap. We joined so that we can continue to let others voice their opinions! pic.twitter.com/tIbKLUvWe8
— Eric Willis (@TeAmoEric) September 4, 2018
What sticks out to many is the the last part of the line in the ad: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Eli Crane, a Navy SEAL veteran and CEO of Bottle Breacher, told IJR how it is ridiculous for Nike and Kaepernick to claim the football player had sacrificed everything for his protests during the national anthem.
“I thought I’d take this opportunity to refocus some of this light onto those that have really sacrificed everything for something they believe in,” Crane said. “Our service men and women who have sacrificed their lives, time with their families, and in many cases, the comforts that we often take for granted.”
The definition of sacrifice is one that Crane is all too familiar with: “I personally served with several men who will never again see their parents, kiss their wives or children again, and often communicate with those who are still overseas serving.”
Crane points to fellow Navy SEALs and “brothers,” Charlie “Chuck” Keating and Patrick Feeks, who were both killed in action:
Even though many, thankfully, were not killed in action, Crane says service members sacrifice in many ways:
Though many of us didn’t pay the ultimate price and give our lives we really did sacrifice everything we cared about to serve the country that we has provided us all with so much opportunity and freedom. One of the hardest things for me personally was to watch my oldest daughter grow up in photographs. It also cut pretty deep to come home seeking a warm family reunion to find my child was afraid of me because she didn’t know who I was.
You miss birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and very special moments. Yet life must go on, our families are hit the hardest in our absence. They can’t call us when things are tough or they want to share a cute first event like your daughter just took her first step or your son said his first word. They must carry on with their lives knowing that any minute they can get that dreaded knock on the front door from several men in uniform. Only to inform them that there won’t be another home coming and that their lives are shattered and their loved one in uniform really did sacrifice everything for something they believed in to their core.
“So go right ahead major corporations and sell more sneakers,” the three tour veteran says to Nike. “Promote celebrity millionaires as those that have sacrificed everything for something they believe in as you sign them to million dollar contracts with their own clothing lines. We won’t even notice the blinding hypocrisy. We will, however, continue to stand for your right to do it, whether we believe or feel disrespected by the message.”
Crane does admit to feeling a little guilty for making a the “selfish decision” to leave the Navy after 13 years because “I was sick of sacrificing everything for something I believed so much in,” but “was delighted to realize that my service to my country didn’t have to end. I could still ‘Just do it’ and serve my country in other ways.”
For example, Crane is happy he can raise his children “to never be ungrateful to this country that has provided the ultimate umbrella of opportunity and prosperity for them.”
He’s also proud of the strong veteran community and how they tell him stories about their loved ones who “Just do it” and “volunteer to serve their country and sacrifice for something they believe in.”