Why Colin Kaepernick knelt: Former Army Green Beret Nate Boyer suggested he do so.Instead of sit as he had done previously, Mr. Boyer told Kaepernick, kneel.
“In a military funeral, after the flag is taken off the casket of the fallen military member, it is smartly folded 13 times and then presented to the parents, spouse or child of the fallen member by a fellow service member while kneeling. The two decided that kneeling for the flag would symbolize his reverence for those that paid the ultimate sacrifice while still allowing Colin to peacefully protest the injustices he saw.”
How it all started, and how we got here.
August 14, 2016 – Colin Kaepernick sits for the national anthem, and no one noticed.
August 20, 2016 – Kaepernick again sits, and again, no one noticed.
August 26, 2016 – Kaepernick sits and this time he is met with a level of vitriol unseen against an athlete. Even the future President of the United States took shots at him while on the campaign trail. Colin went on to explain his protest had nothing to with the military, but he felt it hard to stand for a flag that didn’t treat people of color fairly.
August 30, 2016 – Nate Boyer, a former Army Green Beret turned NFL long snapper, penned an open letter to Kaepernick in the Army Times. In it he expressed how Colin’s sitting affected him.
Then a strange thing happened. Kaepernick was able to do what most Americans to date have not. He listened.
In his letter, Boyer writes:
“I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war. Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it. There are already plenty people fighting fire with fire, and it’s just not helping anyone or anything. So I’m just going to keep listening, with an open mind. I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you.”
Empathy and understanding was shown by Boyer and Kaepernick reciprocated. Kaepernick invited Boyer to San Diego where the two had a 90 minute discussion and Boyer proposed Kaepernick kneel instead of sit.
But why kneel?
In a military funeral, after the flag is taken off the casket of the fallen military member, it is smartly folded 13 times and then presented to the parents, spouse or child of the fallen member by a fellow service member while kneeling. The two decided that kneeling for the flag would symbolize his reverence for those that paid the ultimate sacrifice while still allowing Colin to peacefully protest the injustices he saw.
Empathy, not zealotry under the guise of patriotism, is the only way meaningful discussion can be had. Kaepernick listened to all of you that say he disrespects the military and extended an olive branch to find a peace.
When will America listen to him?
We can all learn from this backstory. The truth often lies in the middle. Seek to learn the opposing side’s point.