On Sept. 1, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, “in a protest of inequality,” chose to platform his personal political views about his perceived station as a U.S. American, and during a final preseason game in which all fans—most with the greatest of respect, reverence— stood for ‘The National Anthem.’ Kaepernick refused to stand … ‘while dozens of military members unfolded an over-sized American flag, and a black Naval Officer sang ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ at Qualcomm Stadium.’
At sporting events across America, during ‘The National Anthem,’ reverence can be felt by American citizens, a deep understanding of the privileges of U.S. American freedom, liberties, and democracy, which seem to be felt inherently. I am convinced there is a reason for this sense of collective consciousness, and perhaps deeper so for those of us from U.S. military families.
We understand firsthand some of the sacrifices made so that all Americans can be free. Perhaps a fortunate young man, given opportunity to play American professional football with the NFL, gaining fame and fortune, can’t quite grasp a true understanding as to what world lies outside his perhaps limited perception.
On Nov. 4, Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Donald Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, an immigrant from Slovenia, spoke to Americans in a campaign speech in Pennsylvania, saying that she had a ‘deep love and respect for this country (The United States).’ This I believe. Mrs. Trump continued that her country, Slovenia, had been under Communist rule when she was a child — void of freedom and democracy, a bleak future. Little has changed in Slovenia over the passing decades — legal statuses revoked and human beings’ status ‘erased’ in contemporary times.
Mrs. Trump continued in saying with confidence, ‘Of course, we already knew about the incredible place called America. America was the word for ‘freedom’ and ‘opportunity.’ I wanted to follow my dreams where freedom and opportunity were in abundance, so of course I came here … It is the greatest privilege in the world.’
For a number of years, I have worked abroad. I wish people like Colin Kaepernick could have walked with me during these years. If Kaepernick had — or had walked with Mrs. Trump — I am convinced Kaepernick would, today, take a very difference stance — perhaps one similar to Mrs. Melania Trump’s, and stand with heartfelt respect during ‘The National Anthem’ without disruption, grateful to be a U.S. American, and choose a very different avenue in which to advocate.
Unsolicited, some of those from other nations — including Communist nations — have shared hardships endured, and continue to endure … for decades. An Afghani mother, with her two sons, who I was helping in finding a home in New Zealand — this family having become displaced refugees — spoke about her gratitude to ‘America’ and how her husband’s and daughter’s lives were brutally taken at the hands of terrorists, but how U.S. military soldiers risked their own lives to save her two sons and her.
Although this family was clothed with exhaustion and grief, this mother’s and her sons’ gratitude to America was palpable, now eternally etched in my memory.
I have met young teens having their innocence savagely stolen, kidnapped from their families and enslaved as prostitutes in plain sight — forgotten, every day living in fear that this day would be their last.
An adult student — a decent, good man— shared that the Communist Party, ruling Taiwan, murdered several of his family members because they were intellects, opposed Communist rule and spoke against the barbaric treatment of human life. This family was silenced along with thousands others.
Did this genocide take place in the 1800s? No, 1992, and this good man’s pain, from the murder of his family members, was yet fresh. Current days? What still remains is hesitation to speak freely, as experienced in conversation with a Taiwan law-enforcement officer, who became teary when he stated he was forbidden to speak about democracy. This, arising in a somber discussion about the most recent ‘disappearance’ of one more Hong Kong journalist who fled — attempting to travel from Beijing to Hong Kong.
And this, as tensions only rise in the Southeast Asian region, Communist China is determined to dominate this region, dominate the world and destroy the United States of America, as Russian military aircraft ‘refuel’ in Vietnam on what was once a U.S. military instillation, and in an act of defiance, and violation of a ‘no-fly zone.’ What only stops Communist China, CNK and Communist Russia? The mighty strength of the United States Armed Forces — full stop. The global community looks to the U.S. for security, safety and hope; I know this firsthand. How different life would be if I had not been born a U.S. American.
I pray that our U.S. military members recently deployed to a war zone, including my daughter, USMC Lt. Cpl. Meagan Morel, are watched over and returned home safely. God bless all of our service men and women who are serving abroad and at home, their families, and my hero, my father, USMC Lt. Col. Oscar J. Morel Jr. God bless America and all of our honorable Veterans on this Veterans Day. Thank you, thank you for your many sacrifices to our country, to the world.
Deborah A. Morel of Taipei, Taiwan, is a former Kauai resident.