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Navy admiral calls out Colin Kaepernick at Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration ceremony

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This is, well, something. Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ceremonies took place all over the country, and there were plenty of speeches to be heard. One speaker decided to invoke Colin Kaepernick in his comments.

U.S. Navy Admiral Harry Harris was speaking at an event, and came on after the playing of the National Anthem. He opened by calling for another round applause for the rendition of the Anthem. He then had this to say:

“You can bet that the men and women we honor today, and those who died that fateful morning 75 years ago, never took a knee and never failed to stand whenever they heard our national anthem being played.”

It’s actually an interesting topic that Admiral Harris brought up. Colin Kaepernick has made it clear he is not anti-military. But even if we put that aside, it raises an interesting question about the military’s own history. Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, and the military did not desegregate until 1948, three years after blacks had fought as valiantly as anybody else in World War II. Black servicemen and women had to deal with racist laws and behavior of the time, and I would not be surprised if some them are or would have been among those supportive of Kaepernick’s protest.

It’s obviously a very divisive topic, and even the Department of Defense recognizes it. The DOD twitter account tweeted video of Admiral Harris making his comments, and the accompanying tweet included the phrase, “‘never took a knee. never failed to stand’ during the National Anthem.” A short while later, the DOD deleted the tweet, and offered this statement:

A Pentagon spokesperson said it had been deleted because reaction to it “suggested that that tweet had been perceived by some as an official DoD endorsement of a position on a political or social issue. … Based on that we made the decision to take it down.” Pentagon guidelines forbid members of the military from taking actions which “imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause.”