JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — In a speech commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor, U.S. Pacific Command Commander Admiral Harry Harris decided to slip in an apparent jab at noted national anthem protester Colin Kaepernick.
“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,” he said.
It wasn’t subtle, and the pointed words earned him a robust standing ovation from the crowd.
In a since-deleted tweet, the Department of Defense promoted Adm. Harris’ comments, quoting him and attaching a video of the moment.
Reactions to Adm. Harris’ remarks have been a mixed bag: A lot of people congratulated the decorated Admiral on his patriotism, while others expressed concern that he chose such a moment to take a knock at Kaepernick’s self-described protest for civil rights.
One person pointed out the fact that, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, black men in the Navy were mostly relegated to positions like mess attendants and cooks (Black men were recruited to general service in 1942, and the first black naval officers were commissioned in 1944. However, most black men who served during World War II did so under heavy segregation.)