This is a total crock and an American fantasy.
I get that people feel they have to defend (or more often of course attack) NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by wrapping themselves in the flag he implicitly, if not explicitly, rejected and that they want to do the whole "soldiers died so he could make this protest" bullshit, but that is all it is.
American soldiers since WWII have not died fighting for freedom or democracy at all. They have most often died in imperial adventures that had little or nothing to do with either of these things or that directly undermined them both at home and abroad.
While the cause in WWII was just due to the staggering evil of the Nazis, the US was still a segregationist country that only entered the struggle reluctantly. In no other war in American history aside from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, which both occurred on American soil, was an American military fighting to protect the democratic rights or civil rights of the American people in anyway.
In the years since 9-11 many died in grotesque and illegal actions like the invasion of Iraq which had no justification of any kind and that had NOTHING whatsoever to do with anyone's "freedom".
Kaepernick's protest was about the ongoing murder of blacks and others by the American police.
It was about the impunity with which these authorities act. An impunity backed by the very governmental authority the US military represents.
The American national anthem has just as much to do with the fact that American Presidents and politicians sent so many young people to die trying to suppress liberation movements in places like Vietnam or by dealing death by drones or air strikes, as it does with any notions of "liberty".
In fact, it was never soldiers who were in the front lines fighting for modern American democracy.
That courageous role was actually taken up by trade unionists, civil rights activists, feminists, socialists and millions of ordinary and extraordinary Americans who were brutalized, killed, beaten, intimidated and jailed as they fought their way along the long road to freedom and equality that remains unfulfilled.
They did not not fight and die on foreign shores, they fought and died in places like Mississippi, New York, Selma, Ferguson, Baltimore and every other place where freedom had to be wrested piece by tiny piece from the forces of the American government and where they still do today.
Malcolm X. Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King. These were freedom fighters.
These were the kinds of people who really died for democracy and equality.
It is the oldest lie -- that imprisons so many of us -- that somehow the military in countries like the United States has been a defender of justice and democracy when the opposite has almost always been the case.
Remember that every single one of the reactionaries who attack a protest like Kaepernick's would have and continues to oppose all actions for real equality and justice in the United States.
Remember that all of the hard fought battles for freedom were won on the streets of the United States by those who stood up against injustice.
Never by the soldiers who were in many cases sent to stop them.
Remember that the very same right-wingers who insist on perpetuating this myth and lie about the military are the same kinds of people who opposed civil rights and equality for women, the racialized and the marginalized in 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010 and today.
They have opposed them every single step of the way and continue to. They have never supported the cause of civil rights and equality -- except perhaps in the faintest of token words when forced to -- and they never will.
They will always oppose these rights.
And part of the way they will do so is with this fundamental lie at the heart of all the lies that it was by the actions of the military that democracy and freedom were won and not by the sacrifices of the people.
Don't believe the lie.
Freedom and democracy in the United States and in every other country on Earth were won, insofar as they exist, by the actions of courageous people in the streets, churches and assembly halls who said "No More" and who stood up and were counted even at the cost of their own lives or personal safety.
Soldiers did not do anything to allow this to happen and we damn and insult the memories of the women and men who really died for our as yet unrealized liberation when we claim otherwise.
Freedom and equality will come some day. I believe that.
But it will not be thanks in anyway to the guns and bombs of government soldiers.
It will be due to those like Colin Kaepernick who stood up and were counted when it mattered and no matter the cost to themselves.
See also: Black Lives Matter is right -- The police are the oppressor
See also: You cannot 'discriminate' against the police. They are agents of discrimination.