Published in the Martinsburg Journal, October 8, 2016

A Gift for Colin Kaepernick

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.