Standing Together As A Team

My first memory of Colin Kaepernick in protest was him sitting on a bench while others stood during the National Anthem.

A game or so later he knelt during the National Anthem. When asked why he refused to stand he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The protest as of this writing has grown now to nearly 200 players protesting … I’m not really sure what. I wonder if many of them even know. If you, and the others who refuse to stand, really want to make a difference, I say begin by getting off your butts, off your knees, and on your feet. Stand for whatever it is you seem to feel so passionate about. I’ve never seen a team score while sitting on the bench or kneeling on the sideline. Stand for what you believe. Get a game plan together, execute that plan and score that touchdown. Sitting or kneeling to convey your lack of pride in our flag during the national anthem in front of 60,000 in the stadium and a few million on TV does nothing to help your cause. It’s hurting it!

Your unwillingness to stand and show pride in our flag, as a way to bring your accusations of oppression to light are immensely misguided and selfish. I want to share with you a number of examples of why the American flag is so deserving of my respect, the respect of many others whose family members have served this great, great country and why my pride for that flag is unwavering.

My great-great-great-great-grandfather, Corp. John Rhoades, served and fought under that flag with the Second Rhode Island Regiment during the Revolutionary War; my great-great-great grandfather, Corp. John Rhoades, fought under that flag with the 93rd Regiment, New York State Infantry, the War of 1812; my great-great-grandfather Pvt. James Rhoades fought and was wounded serving under that flag with the 112th New York Volunteer Infantry, Company H, United States Volunteers, the U.S. Civil War; my great-great-uncle, Corp. Robert Coe, fought and died alongside over 600,000 other Americans under that flag during the Civil War in opposition to slavery and to preserve the Union; my grandfather, Pvt. Mahlon Sweet, fought under that flag with the 308th Infantry, 77th Division, United States Army, World War I; my dad, Sgt. Myrl Babcock served under that flag with the 464th Sub Group-44th Bomb Group United States Army Air Corps during World War II; my brother, Sgt. Joel Babcock, served under that flag with the 1st Marines during the post Vietnam Cold War; his son, my nephew, Senior Airman Nathan Babcock served under that flag with the 732nd Expeditionary Combat Support Group, United States Air Force, the Iraq War.

To them and all others who have worn the uniform, while serving, fighting and dying under that flag, that is what bigger than football is really all about. If you think your act of defiance will separate me from my love for patriotism and my proud lineage of veterans who fought and died serving under that flag; well that ain’t gonna happen! You see, you prepare for a game, and it’s just that for you, a game. You can’t give of yourself a minute or two prior to that game to honor that flag under which so many have fought and died. Yes, fought and died to protect your right to protest. You then attack that flag under which they served as the platform for your grievance. Really? Again you see, to you it’s just a game. To them it’s a job, and fortunately for all of us, they’re darn good at it.

I suggest you and the many now kneeling to come together for a cause. And I don’t know what that cause is right now. Pool some of the millions of dollars that this great country has afforded you all and take your huge megaphone to the areas you feel are oppressed and make a difference. A good place to start would be with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago to see why so many murders have occurred in the city since the first of this year. Encourage dialogue, the formula for creating solutions. What you are creating now are division, anger and low ratings. You are becoming a far greater problem than you are a solution.

You see, there are millions and millions of us that will never support you while sitting or kneeling during our national anthem. NEVER! I reflect to the image, the lone member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a former Army Ranger, standing, hand over his heart during the national anthem. An inspiring moment. Then you, the Kaepernick Kneelers, 200 of you who refuse to stand. How sad. Convey a clear message of your concerns, supply adequate evidence of any violation of those concerns, and millions and millions of us will stand with you to help right those wrongs. You see, millions of us standing with you is worth far more than millions of us opposing you while on your knees. Stand in support of what you believe in.

Is this a perfect country? No. But it’s better than any other place on this earth. And you all can continue to make it a better place by standing for our national anthem, respecting our flag and country and airing your grievances in the appropriate venues. I and millions of others will listen to and respect your concerns; we will not watch while you kneel in protest of our flag, and of our country. You are the NFL. You are young men that have lived the American dream. Young men that every Sunday, Monday and Thursday bring an entire country together. Together we cheer our teams, criticize the other teams and when the games are over, we’re all still friends. That was then, this is now. The game ball is now in your possession. You can’t move the ball while sitting or kneeling. And the country won’t have it. We hope the entire NFL can stand together as a team. It will take ALL of you standing together to heal the NFL, the fans and this great, great country. Is that too much to ask? I say not. If you can do that, we all win.

Jon M. Babcock is a Clymer resident.