Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Colin Kaepernick

For several days I've been mulling through thoughts about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the National Anthem, with the aim of putting something here.

As life has pointed out to me on many occasions, sometimes procrastination is the best policy. In this case, unknown to me, my eldest brother was composing the perfect response, and he has agreed to let me share it here:
Dear Mr. Kaepernick,
I happened to be watching the 49ers on the first day you became quarterback. I was amazed that you performed so well on your first appearance. When you weren't throwing the ball and connecting with your receiver, you were running it and outdistancing the competition.
Therefore this recent brouhaha about you not standing for the national anthem was a great disappointment. You see I am a gay person and spent eight years in the Navy. I was always concerned that someday I would be outed. I even had a gay sailor in my division whom I tried to protect. Unfortunately he was as we say "a screaming queen." It was a difficult job keeping him from being dishonorably discharged (and I include in that the general discharge that was in vogue when I was on active duty). Unfortunately he attempted suicide and then there was no protecting him. One day he was aboard the ship and the next day he was gone.
I also spent a year in country in Vietnam while in the Navy. I met three other gays while serving there. Again all of us were in fear of being outed. We all felt  kindred with Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, an Air Force Sergeant whose epitaph reads "When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one." After Vietnam I worked for the Navy as a civilian and again had to keep my sexual orientation a secret. I was always hopeful whenever something came along that appeared to allow me more freedom, such as "Don't ask don't tell" but was always suspicious that someone was lying. That's the way things were.
Now I am retired and I cannot believe the changes that have been made. After more than 200 years (Yes, you could be put in stocks in early America for being gay) we are now free to even marry. All the members of my generation wanted, was not to be kicked out of the service, military or civilian. We wanted to serve our country.
The point of all this is, is that in all that time I never once refused to stand for the national anthem. This was my country warts and all. But we do try and sometimes we even win! I do wish you had picked another way of expressing your understandable anger at the way things have been going recently. It is of course your right. But things do change. I am now 80 years old can attest to that. Please don't lose faith in our country, like I said we do try.
 I have nothing to add to that.


Anonymous said...

I too have nothing to add. Except that I am proud to call you brothers.

Bob Miller said...

Thanks, Anonymous! And I'm doubly proud that Andrew Tobias asked to use Mike's letter on his blog. Tobias is treasurer of the national Democratic Party, and is gay himself. Here's the link: http://andrewtobias.com/column/astounding-progress/