I stitched together a fluffy seat cushion that doubles as a kneepad for Colin
so he can be comfortable during the five minutes every week during football
season, when the Star Spangled Banner is performed for a crowd of fans
who have no idea what they are standing up for.
If refusing to stand during the National Anthem in order to protest the
treatment of Americans of color is his goal, I must warn him that this may
take a while: he should be prepared to sit for a very long time.
The cushion top is imprinted with colorful cups of coffee on a black
background: perhaps he can take a few moments to tank up while he’s
waiting for the anthem to finish. It is tufted with four original military buttons
from the US Army Class-A uniform issued to me in Basic Training in 1978.
The underside fabric has a snowflake pattern, which represents the freezing
reception anyone suffers when they make a controversial statement.
Making a courageous public act of defiance, completely alone in a stadium
of 50,000 people who disagree with you, is a very cold and lonely place to
be. If you haven’t experienced it, you are probably not worthy of criticizing
someone who has.
The truth that Colin speaks is merely repeating historical fact; it is not an
opinion, expressing anger, or showing disrespect. There are far more
Americans disrespecting the Constitution than there are people
disrespecting the flag or the national anthem. They disrespect it through
ignorance, by willfully ignoring what it is trying to create.
I have driven through thousands of miles of this country, and looked out
over millions of farms, prairies, and grazing lands, with the knowledge that
this beautiful land was stolen and re-settled by Europeans who made sure
there was not one acre to be granted, sold, or bartered---even in exchange
for honorable military service---to a black person.
So let Colin sit during the National Anthem, for as long as it takes, and
experience the euphoria that at least, at least, he has manifested his
affection for this country with the simple hope that the future of America will
be better than yesterday, and better than today.
But I hope he will use my seat cushion, please, to make it a little less painful.
Shepherdstown West Virginia
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