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Why This Former Green Beret Supports Kaepernick's US Flag Protest

09-01-2016
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All eyes will be on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as his team takes on the San Diego Chargers Thursday night.

Kaepernick has been the center of attention over his national anthem protest. The 28-year-old NFL player said he plans to sit out the anthem tonight, just as he did in the preseason game against the Green Bay Packers last week.

"I'm not going to stand up to show pride in a flag or for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said.

Many have blasted Kaepernick's actions as unpatriotic. Some of his fans have burned his jersey while others are boycotting products he endorses.

But others, including some in the U.S. military, agree with his stance.

Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks long snapper, wrote an open letter to Kaepernick on Tuesday, defending his right to protest inequality in the United States by sitting during the national anthem.

In the letter, Boyer says he initially felt anger toward Kaepernick but writes that he's come to a much greater understanding and appreciation for his stance.

"I'm not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It's your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I'd be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes," he wrote. "I've never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you've gone through is as ignorant as someone who's never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it's like to go to war."

Kaepernick, who was born to a white mother and African-American father, was later adopted by two white parents, who had lost two sons to heart disease.

He grew up a Methodist and his faith plays an important role in his life. He attended a Baptist church during college and he often speaks about his faith.

"My faith is the basis from where my game comes from," he said. "I've been very blessed to have the talent to play the game that I do and be successful in it. God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I'm at."

Kaepernick also has several tattoos. His right arm features a scroll with the Bible verse Psalm 18:39 written on it. His left arm features a Christian cross with the words "Heaven Sent" on it, referring to Jesus.

While the recent focus on Kaepernick highlights his refusal to stand for the national anthem, the NFL quarterback has a history of helping those in need.

Kaepernick heads Camp Taylor , a free medically supervised camp for children with heart disease. In June, he helped raise nearly $1 million by hosting a golf tournament for the charity.

According to the camp's website, "Upon receiving his first NFL paycheck, Colin asked his parents to find a charity that supports children with heart disease to gift a portion of his first check to."

"Camp Taylor family and the Kaepernick family have formed a tight friendship and bond. Colin often refers to heart campers as "His Kids" and the kids love him!" the website states.

Giving back is something that many athletes both professional and amateur aspire to do.

Last year, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow opened a children's hospital in the Philippines. Tebow CURE Hospital is the first children's orthopedic medical facility in Mindanao. It's called the "palace of healing" because children are not only healed from physical disabilities, but the love of Jesus is also shared with them.

Soccer star David Beckham is a longtime supporter of UNICIFF and his work the the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children earned him a  spot in that organization's Hall of Fame. 

Allyson Felix, four-time Olympic track and field gold medalist works with the organization Right To Play, which helps engage kids in their education, teach them health lessons and show them how to build peaceful communities through play.

The Michael Phelps Foundation, named for Olympic sensation Michael Phelps, is a nonprofit focused on growing the sport of swimming and promoting healthy and active lives for kids.

And a group of high school seniors in Tucson started a program called, "TASK," or Tucson Athletes Serving Kids.  The student athletes give back to their community by volunteering at local children's charities on a monthly basis.

So, whether Colin Kaepernick is right or wrong for his refusal to stand for the national anthem, it is his right to do so or not but it also goes to show that being in the professional spotlight can highlight the good, the bad and the ugly in an athletes life.  
 

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