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Amid 'Please Stand' Controversy, NFL Announces It Will Honor Veterans During Super Bowl
Days after receiving criticism from a national veterans organization for rejecting an advertisement urging players and fans to stand during the national anthem, the National Football League announced Thursday that it would honor veterans during Super Bowl LII.
Fifteen Medal of Honor recipients will be part of the Super Bowl coin toss ceremony on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis, the NFL announced. The game pits the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots.
World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams, 94, will flip the coin, surrounded by the other Medal of Honor recipients. Williams received the Medal of Honor in 1945 for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
“The NFL is proud to honor our nation’s heroes at Super Bowl LII,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement. “These courageous individuals deserve to be recognized on America’s biggest stage.”
The announcement was made just days after American Veterans, known as AMVETS, spoke out against the NFL for rejecting a print advertisement the group submitted for the official Super Bowl LII programs. The full-page ad pictured the American flag, soldiers and the words “Please Stand,” referring to the movement of NFL players protesting racial inequity and injustice by kneeling during the performance of the national anthem before the start of games.
Following the outcry, NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy said official Super Bowl programs should not be used for political messaging and that AMVETS was given an opportunity to amend their ad.
AMVETS sent a letter to Goodell on Monday, calling the decision “corporate censorship.”
The NFL emphasized Thursday its efforts to honor veterans and the military, including its season-long “Salute to Service” military appreciation initiative. The league also partners with military nonprofits TAPS, USO, Pat Tillman Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project.
Other Medal of Honor recipients participating:
Bennie Adkins, Army, Vietnam; Don Ballard, Navy, Vietnam; Sammy Davis, Army, Vietnam; Roger Donlon, Army, Vietnam; Sal Giunta, Army, Afghanistan; Flo Groberg, Army, Afghanistan; Tom Kelley, Navy, Vietnam; Allan Kellogg, Marines, Vietnam; Gary Littrell, Army, Vietnam;Walter Marm, Army, Vietnam; Robert Patterson, Army, Vietnam; Leroy Petry, Army, Afghanistan; Clint Romesha, Army, Afghanistan; James Taylor, Army, Vietnam.
©2018 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.
Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.