My hope was to forever ignore Colin Kaepernick, but since the Saints play the San Francisco 49ers next week it will be hard not to notice the opposing quarterback and what he has to say. Once again politics body slams leisure.
On the weekend that Kaepernick made his statement as a protest against racial injustice by police by not standing for the national anthem, I happened to be on vacation in France. We were in the town of Arromanche, which is near Omaha Beach. There is a statue of an American GI struggling from the beach while carrying a fellow soldier on his back. Neither soldier might have made it through the day, but I hope they at least knew they had participated in one of America’s greatest moments.
Whenever Kaepernick’s politics is talked about, even among those who disagree with his action, there are those who are quick to add, “but he has a right to say it.” Indeed he does, nevertheless in focusing on one issue he is overlooking the greater good that defines the United States.
Just as Kaepernick has a right to express his opinion, I have a right to question it. And that has made me wonder the following:
Does he know about D-Day and the subsequent liberation of Europe?
Does he know about the Marshall Plan and the United States having financed the rebuilding of Europe?
Does he know about the Cold War in which the United States stood eyeball to eyeball with the Soviet Union for fifty years and ultimately saved the world from Communism?
Does he know about the Monroe Doctrine, which obligates the United States to protect the Americas (both North and South) from foreign invasion? Both continents sleep soundly tonight because the United States is on the beat.
Does he know about terrorist movements and the United States leading the coalition to be rid of them?
Does he remember Sept. 11 and at least concede that the attacks were an injustice against this nation?
Does he know about American inventions, including the Salk vaccine, which ended polio throughout the world, and the internet, which has shrunk the world and made it more democratic?
Does he appreciate America’s amazing leadership in exploring space and the country’s willingness to share the technology with the rest of the world rather than trying to dominate it?
Does he know about America as the great melting pot, which has enabled a mix of people to have opportunities?
Does he know about the Civil War in which 360,000 Union soldiers, mostly young white males, died to end slavery?
Does he remember that a United States President was assassinated for that cause too?
Does he know about Brown Vs. Board of Education by which the Supreme Court integrated America’s public schools?
Does he know about the Civil Right Act, which tore down barriers for minorities?
Does he know about Barack Obama?
Does he appreciate that this land of plenty has made it so that he and his teammates are multi-millionaires just from playing a game?
Sure there have been problems along the road: the Mi Lai massacre; assassinations, including Martin Luther King; but the overall mission of the United States has been as a purveyor of decency and freedom.
Not far from Arromanche, France is the American military cemetery. Near the entrance the words of General Mark Clark, who led the liberation of Italy, are inscribed:
If ever proof were needed that we fought for a cause and not for conquest, it could be found in these cemeteries. Here was our only conquest: all we asked (for) … was enough of soil to bury our gallant dead."
If Kaepernick needs a cause, why not reach further and take a stand against drugs? Why not promote health and physical fitness? Why not encourage kids to study history?
My father arrived at Omaha Beach on one of the later landings. From there he worked his way through France and was submerged in the snow at the battle of the Bulge. Only his insistence to the contrary prevented the medical staff form amputating one of his frost- bitten legs.
He was in a hospital in Belgium on the day that the war ended and recalled hearing a distant bugle playing the "Star Spangled Banner." He would have stood at attention if he could have, so would some of his buddies who died, so that future generations would have the right to take a knee.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. WYES-TV, CH. 12.