The president has gone on and on for days now about the supposed necessity of NFL players standing for the national anthem no matter what. Some players have taken it upon themselves to sit out the anthem as a demonstration on behalf of African Americans.
On September 24, the president retweeted an image of a soldier who had lost both of his legs. Left as a comment on one of his own tweets by one of the many Trump fan accounts that pepper Twitter, the post reads:
‘I wonder what this BRAVE American would give to stand on his OWN two legs just ONCE MORE for our
That soldier has now spoken out, and he has harsh words for the president. In short, he is sick of soldiers being used as little more than a political rallying cry.
BuzzFeed asked the pictured soldier, retired Marine Staff Sgt. John Jones, about his image going viral, and his initial response was a “grim chuckle.”
As he commented: “The thing is, I do stand. Hello, I have technology.” (He uses prosthetic limbs.)
He went on to get more serious, stating, as BuzzFeed summed it up, that the controversy over NFL players standing for the anthem or not is “beside the point.”
Jones, who works for an organization that trains veterans as skilled laborers, explained:
‘Just stop with this sycophantic bullshit and actually do something to support us. I would want Trump to tweet about that, instead of fueling the fire with the people making 10 million to score a freaking touchdown. And for people (seeing the photo) to say, “Look, he’s still standing for this country, and getting veterans good jobs.”‘
As for his own views about the conflict that Trump has jumped in on, Jones says that it’s simply irrelevant.
Like the vast majority of respectable Americans, he has his own views and personal practices with regard to standing for the flag or not, but he’s not trying to force those views on other people.
As he summed up the situation:
‘I’ve got my own views about this, but that’s why I put the uniform on, so people can do whatever they want in a lawful, peaceful manner. I’m sorry, but if you want to know what the real issues are — go to Iraq, or Syria, or Afghanistan, go to places that don’t have the freedoms that we have and see how far you get.’
Jones isn’t even the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces who has been exploited by the president on Twitter in recent days. He also recently tweeted an image of the deceased Pat Tillman, which earned him harsh criticism from Tillman’s widow, who said that military service “should never be politicized in a way that divides us.”
As BuzzFeed notes, the practice of having players stand at attention for the national anthem is itself a relatively recent phenomenon, prompted by influxes of cash from the Department of Defense meant to boost recruiting through shows of patriotism at sporting events. It’s the government that dragged soldiers’ interests into sporting events in the first place.
Featured Image via Bloomberg/ Getty Images