Colin Kaepernick, American football quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, chose not to stand for the national anthem before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on August 26, 2016.
He was called unpatriotic and told to leave the country as controversy erupted. Now, veterans are showing their support for Kaepernick and the First Amendment with the now trending hashtag, #VeteransForKaepernick.
Kaepernick, who played college football at University of Nevada, explained. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he stated in the postgame interview. “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 49ers were among Kaepernick’s staunchest supporters.
“In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem,” the Bay Area team, which plays its home games in Palo Alto, said.
Many NFL football players spoke out against Kaepernick, the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 Humanitarian Bowl.
“All lives matter,” Jerry Rice,former San Francisco 49er Hall of Fame wide receiver, tweeted. “So much going on in this world today. Can we all just get along! Colin,I respect your stance but don't disrespect the Flag.”
New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees “wholeheartedly disagrees” with Kaep’s decision: “...[H]e can speak out about a very important issue. But there’s plenty of other ways that you can do that in a peaceful manner that doesn’t involve being disrespectful to the American flag.”
“He’s being vilified in how he brings the truth out,” Smith said. “I support him because he’s bringing the truth out – regardless of how done. If it’s not done violently, at least he should be heard.”
A diverse array of veterans agree with Smith.
“Don't use my service--or that of any veteran--to justify the silencing of black Americans. Not on my watch,” Army vet and author Charles Cymer tweeted. Many veterans posted photos of themselves in their military uniforms.
Don't use my service--or that of any veteran--to justify the silencing of black Americans. Not on my watch. #VeteransForKaepernick— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) August 31, 2016
The outpouring of support from veterans has certainly tipped the scales of public opinion. Kaepernick has taken a beating in the press and on social media, but his supporters have been ardent, and now he’s got #VeteransForKaepernick on his side.
Others seemed to have missed the point completely.
No idea how Colin Kaepernick survived a childhood this rough. pic.twitter.com/MYqAJitkqc— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) August 28, 2016