To the Editor:
We’ve all heard comments about the NFL players kneeling. For the past 40 years, I’ve tried to make some sense of events. I have no answers for anyone, not even myself, but I do have some standards which I try to apply in controversies. St. Thomas Aquinas said that reason is always in the middle. The American Indians were said to say that one should never say anything about another until you have walked a mile in his shoes.
Many persons have different reactions to the sight of well-paid African Americans kneeling on the sidelines as the national anthem is being played. Some of the remarks are unsuitable, to say the least. Others are of a subdued but patriotic nature. But ALL are entitled to their opinions.
I have served two hitches in the United States Army in five different countries and at sea. I served an old Army troop transport taking European refugees to South America. We had all different ethnic, religions and national persons (DPs) seeking a new home in the New World.
My second hitch was first in Japan at a “Repl Depot,” where thousands and thousands of troops from all U.N. nations were coming and going to the war across the Sea of Japan. Later, I was transferred the the 11th Evac Hospital at Wonju, Korea, where I served as a surgical corpsman carrying them in and out and cleaning up afterward. Later, I was assigned to the 981st Field Artillery Bn as a senior medical aid man. Our other aid man was a black man and a fine soldier. During all this time our Army was integrated and because of poverty, educational deferments and draft-dodging, our forces were disproportionately non-white.
One thing I learned during all these experiences was: no matter who they were or what ethnic or national group, you could use the same blood plasma, same types, regardless of ethnicity, race or color; and they all suffered and died. The same is true of our people in our cities where crime is rampant and poverty holds sway. Many of our professional athletes came from those conditions. Their prowess has seemingly liberated them, but almost all of them have lost friends and loved ones, and have seen nightly newscasts in which it seems that society has written them off of unworthy of the protection and security others enjoy.
Each person, erect or seated or kneeling, has his or her own dreams and hopes and fears, and expresses them in prayer to his or her deity.
Please give them the dignity of their own aspirations, dreams and fears. Please keep them in your prayers.
— Benjamin E. Hiser
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