COMMENTARY: ‘Kneeling cards’ would commemorate disdainful athletes

On this Veterans Day weekend, I offer the following comments.

From a veteran’s eyes, I see the flag controversy by professional athletes as a hostage situation. Unless the country meets their vague demands for “social justice,” they will continue to use their public forum to publicly disrespect the nation, its symbol and its veterans.

The American flag, the most recognized banner in the world, represents our nation and its accomplishments. There is no other nation that has rebuilt its enemies or stood for freedom across the globe at enormous cost.

Dave Skocik

It is the banner under which our veterans rally, fight, die and are covered by when they return home. One of the most iconic photos of World War II was the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. The five Marines and a Navy corpsman, three of whom were later killed, were not the focus of the picture. It was the flag because it represented America on an island battlefront that killed 6,800 Americans.

Our flag flies over military cemeteries in 16 foreign countries honoring over 207,636 U.S. war dead. Millionaire athletes who believe their country deserves public disdain should ask the millions who have crossed our borders why they want to be here.

Ask veterans of all backgrounds and ethnicities who have endured multiple tours in hostile environments where people want to kill you. Ask the man or woman who has lived in mud or sand, or been wounded, held in captivity, seen friends die or is being treated for PTSD. Meet with families of the fallen who have only a folded flag presented “on behalf of a grateful nation.”

Many nations require citizens to give something back, whether military or civic service, for the benefits they receive. It’s the fair and socially just thing to do. Why should only 1 percent of our population be responsible for protecting the rest?

As Jane Fonda can attest, veterans have long memories.

If professional athletes want to use their media platform to engage in political issues, in the same spirit of freedom of speech, I propose the following, beginning in December.

Just as coalition forces created a deck of cards to help U.S. forces identify Saddam’s top lieutenants during Desert Storm, someone should create a deck of “Kneeling” cards to commemorate athletes who feel it necessary to publicly display their disdain for our nation and its flag.

Each card would include a photo of the athlete from any sport taking a knee or seated during the national anthem with the date, time and game. They could become collector’s items for future reference with proceeds dedicated to veterans hospital and nursing homes.

The project could include an associated website listing the mailing address of every franchise so that offended ticket holders could document their concerns and demand refunds.

Similarly, school teams funded by taxpayers should also hear from offended boosters. Playing to half-empty stands would send a clear message that the flag is a third-rail issue to much of the country.

If you’re not willing to stand for your country, what are you willing to stand for?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave Skocik of Dover is a Vietnam veteran and president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition.

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