Veterans Day 2017

(Written by FB friend, Joe Keller, and posted with his permission)

Even though I am a vet myself, I have always assumed the work of veterans was appreciated by all Americans who live under the flag and enjoy the freedoms the veterans put their lives on the line to protect. While it is nice to be recognized, being a vet is simply part of being an American who loves his country.

One of the reasons it always felt good to be a vet was to see sporting events, with their massive crowds, playing the Star Spangled Banner. Out of respect to the flag, and all of the great things our country represents, everyone would rise to the National Anthem, face the flag and place their hand over their hearts, as a singer would try to reach all the notes of that dastardly song. Whether they hit all the notes or not, when the song ended, an uproar from the crowd would erupt.

For this veteran, that was all the appreciation I ever needed. It was an appreciation that was a tradition, but one I never took for granted.

And then along came a puny, insignificant little man with a cause.

I despise puny, insignificant people with causes.

In 2011, if memory serves correct, I got an email from a friend who asked for prayers for her nephew. He had been hit by an IED in Iraq and suffered burns over 80% of his body. He was on his way to the States for treatment.

I prayed.

I thought about the “life” this boy was going to have. I know the insufferable pain he was going to have to live with for the rest of his life. His raw nerves exposed, everything was agonizing pain. To get washed, to feel the sheets drop against his burned skin, even a gentle breeze would bring the most excruciating of pain. I could see years of skin grafts he would need to endure. After years and years of pain, it might subside. He would still have a family that loved him but any semblance of a normal life was gone.

He had sacrificed his life without dying.

I cried.

Moments later I turned on the television and there was a puny, insignificant woman with a cause testifying before Congress. She came from a wealthy family and went to an extremely expensive university in Washington, D.C. She felt that no woman in her dormitory should have to pay for birth control. That was her cause…birth control should be free to college women. She was applauded and praised by the media as if she was the Second Coming.

I compared the bravery of my friend’s nephew and all of those soldiers and veterans who had died, suffered and served with this pathetic, sniveling excuse of an American woman whining on TV and being made a media hero all across the country.

And, I cried for hours.

Was this what my friend’s nephew sacrificed his life for?

Over the space of a few minutes. I had seen the best and the bravest this country had to offer in pain and ruins, to the attention of nobody. And, I had seen the worst this country had to offer, someone who didn’t care about anything but her cause and self-importance. A “giver” would live a life of pain and suffering. The “taker” would get her law degree and champion other insignificant and selfish causes like her own. She would no doubt become even more wealthy in the process. She risked nothing. She showed no courage. Self-importance is not courage. Yet, to a misguided media she was the hero.

The juxtaposition of the two at almost the same moment caused me so much pain. I knew he would leave the family emotionally and financially drained with years of care and support.

The thought crossed my mind was this a country even worth fighting for anymore? Would I let my own son serve this kind of country?

And then this puny and insignificant man did one of the most horrible things a person could do to a veteran. He sat down at the National Anthem at a football game, for a cause he must think rises in importance over all our nation stands for.

Then he kneeled.

Thick-headed members of the media painted this blockhead as courageous and his cause more important than the country. This man wouldn’t know courage if it slapped him in the face. Veterans know courage. But, with the media leading the way, other players began to follow him kneeling in complete disrespect to our country and all the veterans who ever served to keep our flag flying. With coaches all the way down to Pop Warner football teaching children that disrespect of the flag was acceptable, disrespect was becoming institutionalized.

And, the tears began to flow again.

As much as I have loved the game of football for the past 55 years, to ease the pain, I have had to turn the games off. Until the players who are participating in this assault against our flag and country realize their cause has hurt more people than it will ever help, the games will remain off. Until they understand our country and veterans are worth spending one minute a week in reverent respect, their cause won’t get one iota of attention from me and, I hope, you.

The only way to appeal to the patriotism of these misguided players, with their causes, is to turn off the game and not attend at the stadiums. The players shouldn’t have to be told to stand at attention. When they see the response of all those who are offended by their actions, those whom they have hurt, I believe they will know to do the right thing. Their cause is going nowhere until they do. The future of the NFL is at stake if they don’t.

This Veteran’s Day weekend, out of respect to all veterans, please turn off NFL games. Please do not go to games, even if you have tickets. You can make a significant impact in just one week. Those tickets you hold, you can look at in the future as a collector’s item as the day when you stood up for America and made a difference.

I feel like a puny person with a cause myself, but my cause is America itself. It is worth fighting for.

That is why I am a vet.

—Joe Keller

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