I guess now that everything is open to both genders, I should probably start referring to the mothership of all things Infantry as “Fort Benning Prep School for Wayward Youth.” But, when the volunteers go through Fort Benning, they come out on the other side of graduation as an Infantry Soldier, or a Paratrooper, or a Ranger.
The Seattle Seahawks as a collective entity declared to the world that they would take a knee in protest. Colin Kaepernick’s attempt to use the NFL as a platform to protest has continued to grow, and the viewership of NFL games has continued to fall.
As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.
The Players of the Seattle Seahawks
Somehow the ten reasonable requests you can still find at campaignzero.com have been bastardized into some generalized complaint about “those that would deny our most basic freedoms” rather than anything actionable. Of course the Seahawks are centered in a very blue city, and may find plenty of support in that metropolitan area. They will lose support in all the red counties of Washington, which is all of them except for five.
But on the same day, the Pittsburg Steelers spent the time for the National Anthem in the locker room, save for one. Alejandro Villanueva isn’t a corn fed “white” American name. News outlets are referring to him as an “ex-Ranger” or “veteran.” There are no “ex-Rangers” unless the Ranger tab has been rescinded from an individual. You earn the tab, you are a Ranger, you wore the scroll, you are a Ranger. The tab is a school, the scroll is a Regiment, but either way you managed to earn the right to wear that little piece of cloth. Ranger school won’t make you a better person, it will help you find where you thought your limits were and move past them. But in the end, the tab is a piece of cloth, and what matters is the character of the person wearing it.
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Alejandro Villanueva was awarded two Bronze Stars, one for valor and one for service. He is a man who volunteered to go to West Point in a time of war where no end was in sight, volunteered for Ranger school knowing where that would take him, and deployed three times. In his career he has seen men die, and the flag of our nation lay across the casket of someone he fought alongside. He is a man who has seen real bigotry, and real hatred, and he has seen men of all races come together to keep each other alive in a war that most Americans don’t care about and don’t care to know about.
Now the Ranger tab is just a piece of cloth. If you take it off a uniform it changes nothing about the skills, knowledge, abilities, character, and competence of the person under the uniform. Those are the things that matter, and those things are why Alejandro Villanueva stood, alone, while others stayed inside a locker room trying to avoid the controversy of taking a stand or taking a knee.
America isn’t perfect, and people have the right to be ungrateful and petty. There is no law requiring citizens to be good citizens. The “most basic freedoms” that the Seattle Seahawks whined about are still protected by men and women of all races who volunteer, freely and of their own accord. Their attempt to claim patriotic dissent while appreciating the very people who uphold the current imperfect system is simply wordplay to deflect the criticism of their choice. When they can’t even articulate what “most basic freedom” is being denied, or name this faceless oppressor, it is just whining.
I believe in the idea of America, and I know it isn’t perfect. But it will never be perfect, and times will get better and worse, reflecting the morals of the citizens of the times.