A year after sending Colin Kaepernick a letter for his initial protest, Nate Boyer, former Army Green Beret and NFL long-snapper, has released another letter for similar reasons but with different intent.
When Boyer wrote his first letter, he came from a place that many Americans can relate to. Anger was his initial reaction to Kaepernick sitting out for the National Anthem, but instead of feeding the fire, Boyer realized that there must be a reason or such a stand (or sit in this case).
“I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you.”
His words were peaceful in a time of hate, and it seems as though we need his words once again, as the situation he first responded to has only increased in volatility. With the help of our current Commander in Chief, the NFL protests have caused a fury within the sporting world, and America as a whole.
People have lost sight of what Kaepernick was trying to bring to light in the first place, and instead have been divided by a leader who spews hatred at every corner of the world. Thankfully, there are still people out there like Boyer, who just want the two sides to see eye to eye, instead of tearing our country apart at the seams.
Here is the letter he wrote about the recent state of our country and to the people who live within it:
Dear Every Single American,
Every. Single. American. Including President Trump, Colin Kaepernick, and my brothers in arms overseas who are wondering, “what in the hell is going on back there?” I’m sitting in the same chair, in the same apartment that I sat in almost a year ago when I wrote an open letter to Colin Kaepernick. I was hurt when I saw him sitting on the bench during the national anthem, but I’m much more hurt now. Not by him, not by where we’re at now with the protests, but by us.
Simply put, it seems like we just hate each other; and that is far more painful to me than any protest, or demonstration, or rally, or tweet. We’re told to pick a side, there’s a line drawn in the sand “are you with us or against us?” It’s just not who we are, or at least who we’re supposed to be; we’re supposed to be better than that, we’re Americans. This doesn’t even seem to be about right or wrong, but more about right or left.
Today it feels like this national divide isn’t even really about the anthem, or the flag, or kneeling, or sitting, or fists in the air. It’s not about President Donald Trump, it’s not about Colin Kaepernick, it’s not about the military, or even police brutality. It feels like it’s about winning. That’s what makes America so great, our sheer competitiveness. We’re winners, and we won’t quit until victory is ours.
We see it in sports everyday, we “live and die” by the outcomes of our teams. That desire to win at all cost is costing us greatly now among our neighbors. This winning mentality seems to have spilled over into an obsession with being right and not willing to admit that maybe, just maybe we were wrong. We repeat mantras to ourselves like, “no matter what I will never ever surrender.”
To deploy overseas, train, live with, fight alongside, and ultimately defend foreigners that you have little in common with is truly a challenging task. But returning home to a country that is so divided, so judgmental, and so hateful of one another is almost as difficult to deal with as burying a fallen comrade.
Earlier this week I sat down with a group of five Combat Arms and Special Operations Veterans. The round table discussed our individual feelings on the flag, the anthem, and the players who knelt when it was played. We all had very different takes, but what surprised me most at the end of the discussion was that we all agreed on one thing. Colin Kaepernick and President Trump should be the ones uniting our country together. Wait…what? I know it sounds crazy, but maybe that’s exactly what we need to see. Maybe that’s how we start to heal. Two men sit in a room and talk, simple as that.
That’s how it all started with Colin and I, neither of us knew that kneeling would be the result of our conversation. Colin wanted to sit, I wanted him to stand, and so we found a common ground on a knee alongside his teammates. I believe that progress and real change happens in this world when you reach across the divide, you build a bridge, you swallow your pride, you open your mind, you embrace what you don’t understand, and ultimately you surrender.
The letter goes on to talk about experiences he’s had with other Veterans and that in the end, we all want the same thing. Again, his words resonate in a way that Trump’s never will, and in a more understanding tone than even Kaepernick probably expected.
This heart-wrenching message from one of the true hero’s in our country should open some eyes and hearts. If we could all see things the way Boyer does, our world would be a much better place.
“So I’ll be here, standing in the radical middle, doing what I can to continue fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. Let’s get this thing fixed together, you and me. I love you all with all my heart.”