Veterans Speak Out About Moses Brown Coach Who Kneels at National Anthem

Friday, October 06, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team

Clockwise: Major Fecteau, Air Force Vet Hood, and Ret. Maj. Feroce
A range of U.S. military veterans spoke to GoLocal about the growing controversy tied to the varsity soccer coach at private day school Moses Brown who pledged to kneel down during the national anthem of all future games.

Coach Eric Aaronian declared last Friday, in part, in an email to his team's parents, “I have been moved to be a stronger ally to those who are targets of injustice.”

Read his full email here.  

Moses Brown Coach Aaronian
On Thursday, Moses Brown’s head of school Matt Glendinning wrote to parents, “I’d like to clarify the school's position on this matter. In his letter to parents, the coach clearly explained that his decision was a personal one and that it had a single purpose - to protest racial injustice in America. Unfortunately, many interpreted his kneeling differently: as an overt political act, a protest against the President, or a sign of disrespect to the military.”

But, many of the veterans GoLocal spoke to believe that kneeling during the national anthem is inappropriate and an insult to those who serve in the United States military. And, each of the veterans expressed support for the right of expression and the corresponding ramifications.

“I believe Mr. Glendinning is trying to navigate the treacherous waters of today’s political discourse. Unfortunately, the conversation has positioned itself in such a way that if you disagree with kneeling during the national anthem then you are denying racial injustice. It is a lose-lose situation,” said Tristan Hood, a Brown University student and Air Force veteran who completed two tours in Iraq.

"When he says, 'Hatred and the denial of racial injustice in our country has no place at Moses Brown' he is suggesting that those who do not support the coach’s behavior, are in some way rejecting racial injustice at large. No one is denying racial injustice, but they are denying kneeling during the anthem and disrespecting the flag and our country. It is an ultimatum. This is a false stance and quite frankly, an intellectually disingenuous argument. His words and the coach’s actions are clearly a political statement despite claiming an apolitical stance," added Hood who interned for United States Senator Jack Reed this past summer.

Tristan Hood
"That said, Moses Brown is a private institution and as such, can embrace whatever message they wish to convey. While I find the coaches behavior disrespectful and Mr. Glendinnings words nothing more than a political maneuver, they both have a right to say and do what they think is in the best interest of their institution," said Hood.

“Whenever the National Anthem plays I remember that after two combat tours in Baghdad and a couple of years in Afghanistan the actual cost and sacrifice that keep the colors flying is insurmountable. I have loaded too many brothers and sisters onto their final flights home, so that they may rest forever under the flag. I know that under that flag, despite our checkered and sometimes abhorrent past, people in the United States experience a better standard of living and range of freedoms than almost anywhere else in the world. For these reasons, I will not kneel, and I will honor them always by standing during the Anthem.  But like I mentioned, these are my reasons. I have every right to them as Coach Aaronian and Mr. Glendinning have a right to theirs,” he added.

Retired Staff Sergeant Taylor Horridge told GoLocal, “My belief is that sports are things that can bring us together as one...same with the National Anthem...political causes belong in their own Coliseum.”

In Glendinning’s letter, he made no comment about the value of military service. READ HIS LETTER HERE

Feroce in Iraq
“I do have an issue with using the national anthem as the vehicle for a protest, regardless of the issue.  That moment has already been earned and is owned by those that have sacrificed (many with their lives) over the years for this nation.  No one should have the right to hijack that incredibly important moment, it is just simply wrong,” said Giovanni Feroce who is a potential candidate for Governor, served in the U.S. Army, and is a combat veteran of the Iraq War. He retired with the rank of major.

"As someone who has served his country, I respect the rights of all citizens. While I may not personally agree with everything expressed and some veterans may disagree with me on this matter, I especially respect the rights of all Americans to have divergent opinions on some matters -- including kneeling during the National Anthem. No matter these respectful disagreements, I ask everyone to understand these deeply personal decisions are what many of us fought to protect," said Major Matt Fecteau, Iraq War Veteran, and GoLocal MINDSETTER™. 

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