I am reposting this commentary by former U.S. Marine, Ken Russell. I believe he speaks for millions of active duty and former members of the U.S. Military. He certainly does for me. HooRah!
By Ken Russell
I had the privilege to serve with the finest Americans, the U.S. Marine Corps, from 1979 until 1990. These fine Americans included people you’ve never heard of like Pat Guigerre, Jeff Sharver, and Jeb Seagle, who gave their lives to provide NFL players the freedom to make an issue of themselves.
To demonstrate their feelings of concern about this horrible racist nation – at least according to their own delusions – they only need a modicum of audacity to denigrate the symbols of their freedom during a football game rather than on their own personal time.
Keep in mind that an NFL team demonstrating respect for white policemen murdered by a racist black man is…well, manifestly inappropriate and forbidden.
To amplify why NFL knee-taking is a personal insult to me, let me describe how Pat and Jeff gave their lives. They were Cobra gunship pilots and were part of a flight of two Cobras during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. The pilots in the other Cobra, Tim Howard, and Jeb Seagle, were providing close air support to some Army guys pinned down by enemy Cubans.
In the process of providing air support, Tim’s and Jeb’s Cobra was shot down. Tim and Jeb survived the crash. Tim lost the use of his right arm and both legs. Jeb was eventually captured, tortured, and murdered by the Cubans.
At about that time, Pat and Jeff ran out of ammo. To draw attention and enemy fire away from Tim and Jeb so that Mel DeMars, Larry King (CH-46 Sea Knight pilots), and Kelly Neideigh (CH-46 crew chief) could rescue the two Cobra pilots, Pat and Jeff flew their Cobra in a way to get the enemy to fire at them.
Their plan worked. The Cubans shot down Pat and Jeff, killing them both, but Tim was rescued by Kelly and flown back to safety. Mel, Larry, and Kelly weren’t able to get there soon enough to save Jeb before he was captured and murdered.
In the same way that it is a personal decision by many NFL players allowed to violate NFL rules and use their fame and professional excellence to demonstrate their dislike of this nation for whatever reason, it is also a personal decision for me never to watch another NFL game as long as these protests against this nation are allowed to persist during the National Anthem or anytime during a game.
It’s not as though my departure from being a football fan and viewer is going to matter to Mr. Goodell. But I couldn’t care less. I like watching football, but I don’t need it to survive or to make a living. Mr. Goodell and the NFL team owners, players, coaches, TV sports personalities, vendors, and cities need the NFL to be successful to survive, or at least to make the next payment on the limo.
I will cry no tears for the NFL if they decide to throw everything they’ve worked so hard for away because they demand to rub their disrespect for their national anthem and their flag not just in my face, but in the faces of those who died providing their freedom.
They could do something positive and stand up for Jeff, Pat, and Jeb and stand up for other Marines like Mel, Larry, and Kelly. They could stand up for Greg Baur and Paul Gehring, who rescued wounded Marines in Beirut while their CH-46 was being shot at by small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. They could stand up for Jeff Marshall and Kevin McNulty, who flew into Beirut International Airport one night in 1983 while it was under attack to rescue several wounded Marines.
I was a co-pilot in the backup Sea Knight in case Jeff and Kevin were shot down. Because I had to stay in radio contact, I heard what they went through to get to the wounded Marines. It still scares the hell out of me, and all I did was listen to the radio chatter describing how they risked their lives.
Maybe the reader knows a few service members who did similar or much braver things than those Marines with whom I was so very privileged to serve, by providing the NFL players the freedom to be world-class in their microscopic world of the greatest athletes on Earth.
Indeed the knee-taking players, the team owners, the commissioner, the sports media, and most politicians couldn’t care less where their freedoms originate and how their freedoms are maintained, nor do they care about the symbol and the anthem that represent their liberty. Apparently, they care about only a silly notion of self-importance and arrogance they incorrectly call bravery and patriotism, with no fear of getting fired at or sustaining any personal danger for doing so.
If other service members and their friends, family, and co-workers, along with all the other football fans, appreciate symbols of freedom and care to join the likes of me to disinvest from the NFL completely (yes, even when no one is looking), well, maybe there’ll be enough of us to send a message to the knee-takers.
I have the personal luxury of knowing and seeing exactly where freedom originates and also where it is symbolized in both the flag and the National Anthem. That’s why I’ve already disinvested. I also know that Jeff, Pat, and Jeb would return the favor if it had been I and not they who died. That’s why it matters.
Might I suggest that the NFL knee-takers and the NFL owners protest on their own time? Otherwise, they have the freedom to protest on my time, and I have the freedom not to watch them do so.
You see, that’s how it works, and it’s so much bigger than a damned game.