Protests and Patriotism

Quoted from POW/MIA RECOGNITION DAY MESSAGE by Major General John R. D’Araujo Jr. USA Ret. Sept. 17, 2016 at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery


Over the last 3 weeks we have seen a small number of professional athletes who choose to engage in a “protest against American injustices” by refusing to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. Ostensibly, this is designed to bring public awareness to their cause.

My personal view is this nonsense brings attention to themselves. It also serves to alienate a large segment of the U S population, particularly veterans and those whom we honor here today and their families.

Its notable that none of these people have lifted a finger in the service of our country yet they enjoy the freedom to enrich themselves under the very blanket of security and opportunity the country provides. In no other country on the planet would this have been possible.

Patriotism in a downpour // Taken in PO 2C Randall Smith’s USN Funeral Procession
These patriots and their families serve as an inspiration to all of us by their unique example of sacrifice, commitment and hope.

While we all recognize their constitutional right to protest in this way, my personal view is that they are giving a slap in the face to all those who we honor here today. They have sacrificed their lives and freedom in order to preserve the freedom and values the American flag stands for. The protestors miss the point entirely by the contempt and disrespect they show the American Flag. Unfortunately, there is a segment of our society that will treat these people as heroes.

On the other hand, we have learned much by the lives of America’s true heroes, prisoners of war, those Missing in Action and their families. We learned of their courage, mental and physical strength and amazing ability to endure the most horrific abuse and maltreatment, while never losing their faith in God.


We have learned just as much from the families of our POWs and MIAs by their courage and strength, who continue their lives never giving up hope.

These patriots and their families serve as an inspiration to all of us by their unique example of sacrifice, commitment and hope.

These are the heroes, service members and families both. We owe them the firm commitment as a people and as a nation to do all in our power to support their efforts and enduring that “no one is left behind”.

John R. D’Araujo Jr.
Maj. Gen. USA Retired

Knox County Deputy Veterans Service Officer Mark Lett remembers his uncle Cpl. Lawrence E. Lett USMC KIA – Navy Cross – Korea.
This picture of family grief illustrates why MG D’Araujo is talking about respecting our flag and the sacrifice of our veterans. This service was held Oct. 27, 2015.
MG John R. D’Araujo USA Ret and Capt. Robert “Buzz” Buswell USA Ret at September 17th Commemoration. Capt. Buswell is also a member of the mOPH 356. It took him 19 months to recover from the severity of his wounds.

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