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Admiral’s national anthem remark scores with Pearl Harbor audience

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / ckojima@staradvertiser.com

    Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., Commander of the U.S Pacific Command, gives the keynote speech at today’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at Pearl Harbor’s Kilo Pier.

U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry Harris says those who served during the attack on Pearl Harbor never failed to stand for the national anthem.

His remarks at today’s ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack generated a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd, with people whistling and hooting. Thousands gathered for the event, held on a pier across the harbor from where the USS Arizona sank during the 1941 attack.

“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,” Harris said to nearly a minute of clapping, whistles and whoops.

“Hearing the words ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ means something special for every American, every day,” Harris added. “But today, on Dec. 7th, it takes on extraordinary significance, as we’re joined here in this hallowed place by World War II veterans and survivors of the attacks on military bases all across Oahu, including right here at Pearl Harbor.”

In recent months, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others have knelt through the national anthem to protest police brutality and the treatment of minorities, drawing criticism and acclaim alike. Athletes from many sports, from youth to professional levels, have followed Kaepernick’s lead.

Reached later, Pacific Command spokesman Robert Shuford said Harris’ comments “speak for themselves.”

Harris has been the top U.S. military officer in the Asia-Pacific region since he took over the command in May 2015. He had moved over from the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which he led since October 2013.

In February, Harris described China’s militarization of the South China Sea as being “as certain as a traffic jam” in Washington, D.C. At the time he told senators that to believe otherwise, “you have to believe in a flat Earth.” U.S. and Chinese diplomats generally cushion their barbs over who is to blame for militarizing the region.

More than 300,000 troops are assigned to the Pacific Command’s area, which stretches from the U.S. West Coast to the western border of India.

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      • So you don’t believe in freedom of speech? Or maybe you think freedom of speech is great, as long as nobody uses it for speech you don’t agree with?

        • IRT Ryan02, for me, who experienced taking care of a fellow American killed in combat, and over the years attending military burial services, defacing or burning the American flag is not “Free Speech” period. I strongly believe that the U.S. Supreme Court must re-visit their past decision.

        • I was in Korea. And in my opinion, what the flag stands for (free speech) is more important than the flag itself, which nowdays was probably made in China of possibly toxic synthetic materials (which is a good reason NOT to burn it, but I defend a person’s right to do so).

        • IRT Ryan02, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1989 with a 5 to 4 vote that desecration of the Flag was free speech. Also, attempts have been made a number of times to challenge the decision. But, with Democrats controlling one side of Congress or the Presidency. Today, we have the Republicans controlling the Presidency, the Senate, and the House. This next 4 to 8 years may bring sanity to making America Safe and Great Again by repealing the 1989 Supreme Court decision.

        • kuroiwaj – You think restricting free speech – to allow only speech that YOU approve of – is an improvement?

          Scalia voted that flag burning was free speech. That decision will not be overturned.

        • Just remember all you A-holes were that freedom of speech came from. Remember that if you speak your mind the way you do in many countries the way you do you’ll get your head cut off, your family will be banished to camps or worse. Remember that you jack azzes. Have some respect and understanding of were your so called freedom speech came from and what it costed to get it and keep!!!!!

        • Ryan02, if you are a strong believer in the “American Flag” representing “Free Speech”, would you join us in opposing the desecration of the “American Flag”? The reason is simple, desecration of the “American Flag” is desecration of “Free Speech”. The U.S. Supreme Court must revisit the decision on the desecration of the “American Flag” and overturn their 1989 decision.

  • Obama was probably horrified and will privately demand Harris’ resignation before he flies off to celebrate Ramadan in his $7,000/night luxury vacation home.

    Thank you, Admiral Harris, for setting an example for all Americans to follow.

    • Why is it so difficult for people commenting on stories like this to simply agree, disagree, or state an opinion/view without having to add in snippy and caustic remarks? All it does is lessen the strength and meaningfulness of the point you’re trying to make. Let’s be mature, civil and intelligent. We ALL want a better society, so how about we have a more inclusive and healing attitude?

      • Yes, it has come to this point. I find it interesting that most agree Freedom of Speech is the most important right we hold. That’s why it’s puzzling that many here seem to want people to be quiet with their opinions.
        I like to read peoples post. It gives a good snapshot of their thinking.
        Civil discussion is a thing of the past…sadly.

    • GREAT Speech…Insiders are questioning NFL’s “donation” into the admirals bank account though??? Jets owner has been seen hanging around Trump headquarters last couple days before the speech…Maybe influenced by MONEY to mention taking a KNEE??? MEDIA not reporting possible TRUMP connection…#MAGA

    • Yotare, making a cheap shot at our President. Your aspersions against Obama are way worst than someone kneeling during the national anthem. Have you any shame or sense of decency.

      • One, ENGLISH GRAMMAR. Try it.

        Two, I do have a sense of shame and decency. That’s why while those of your political leanings burn flags and are reduced to molding play-doh and thumb-sucking when elections don’t go their way, I stand with my right hand over my heart when our anthem plays and show my utmost respect and gratitude to any man or woman who has worn our flag on his or her shoulder and defended this nation.

        Three, SHHHHH!! Wait…you hear it? WAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! VOTER FRAUD!! RECOUNT!! LET’S BURN SOME FLAGS!! RACIST!! BIGOT!! I’M MOVING TO CANADA!! OK, MAYBE NOT!! OK, I WAS ONLY JOKING!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!

        In the words of your esteemed failure of President: WE WON. GET OVER IT.

  • It’s just a song. And one that was written when blacks were owned as slaves, as property. “The land of the free” didn’t apply to blacks. So it’s easy for a white man to criticize minorities for insulting a song — while not acknowledging what the protests are criticizing, which is the murder of many citizens by police based solely on their race. Yeah, nice try attempting to “equalize” two wrongs (insulting a song versus killing people) that are nowhere near equal.

    • And the US fought a war like no other and like no other country on earth ever did to end that slavery. The criticism is not about a “song”. You know that. The controversy is over what the song stands for.

      • The song stands for freedom, including freedom of speech which is the most important freedom because it protects all other freedoms. The reason people use it (and the flag) during protests is because it adds meaning/attention to the protest. If Kaepernick took a knee during any other song, what would it matter? He chose an important song because his protest is important — at least, it is to HIM. That’s freedom of speech.

        • Good point Ryan02. Many people tend to forget or not acknowledge that fact of slavery and a song written by a slave owner.

  • Adm Harris must be auditioning for a promotion to a higher position in the Navy or some important position in the next administration, not that I’m against what he said.

    Anyway, he’s a credit to “hapas” everywhere and to both sides of his family…American and Japanese!

    • OMG ShopOholic, are we not all just American, period. Just as all the men I served with in Vietnam. As Sp4 Johnny Green said during one of our talk story evening after eating our LRPS, “We all bleed red.” “Same-same” and we all take care of each other.

  • Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. Either you support it or you don’t. Even if you don’t like it, taking a knee, burning the flag or the KKK peacefully marching in a parade, those are freedoms our country’s constitution allows.

      • Well, some Americans seem to not support freedom of speech by calling for people who take a knee or burn the flag to be punished. In the words of Justice Scalia: “If I were king, I would not allow people to go about burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment, which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged. … Burning the flag is a form of expression. Speech doesn’t just mean written words or oral words. … Burning a flag is a symbol that expresses an idea.” He was addressing the flag, but one could reasonably assume he’d feel the same way about taking a knee during the National Anthem.

  • Yes, it’s only a song but it’s our song. It inspired so many who gave so much for our Nation. I will stand until my dying day and give thanks for the opportunities I and my family have had.

  • LlIts about time someone spoke up about this ridiculous “protest”. The Adm. had every right to say what most Americans feel. He didn’t say that NFL players can’t do it.

    • What war are you talking about? They fought, but they were also not free in many cases. The British also recruited some black men to fight for them and they did so willingly. There is a lot more to the issue of the song and racism that many people refuse to acknowledge. It isn’t just about honoring the military. It is about singing a song that mentions slavery in the third stanza and was written by a slave owner himself. People need to realize that. And our freedom of speech gives us the right to protest that.

  • The Admiral stated a very accurate point of view. The veterans that served on December 7 were ones that also stood for the anthem. As he stated later to the press, his statement speaks for itself.

    Yes, we have freedom of opinion, on both sides of the aisle. The Admiral did a fine job weaving this decisive issue in there to both make a statement and make a point. Read into it all you want, but it does show that just because some high priced NFL players who can’t get their team to .500 for the season does not have stage monopoly on how one should see an issue like patriotism.

  • It is refreshing to not only hear…”Adm. Harry Harris says those who served during the attack on Pearl Harbor never failed to stand for the national anthem”…but to have those in attendance react in a manner I deem appropriate. God Bless American! 🙂

  • As a veteran, I tend to wince when people “thank me for my service” it seems such hollow gesture. However, these victorious veterans truly do deserve our gratitude for their valiant efforts, guided through same by forthright leadership in the military as well as the government. Hopefully, we will some day see the likes of such leadership again.

  • I’d rather live in a country where you have the freedom to disagree with your government than in a country (like North Korea) where if you don’t watch your mouth you may end up in an unmarked grave feeding the worms.

  • What makes our country really great is that idiots like Kaepernick have the liberty to make fools of themselves. As a veteran, much as I despise those that would take a knee at the national anthem and burn our flag as a form of protest, I defend their First Amendment right to do it.

    I wouldn’t want to live in a nation kuroiwaj wants where non-politically correct speech by anyone, whether right or left, is policed by the government. If he wants that, he should move to China or North Korea. I’m sure they have the laws against freedom of speech and flag burning he wants there. It’s very presumptuous of kuroiwaj to think he speaks for all veterans. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a pseudo-conservative, authoritarian hypocrite. The Founders of our nation and authors of our Constitution and Bill of Rights would be horrified at the thought of government-regulated speech. His type of phony “conservatives” complain about big government, except when it comes to imposing their beliefs on others by force.

    Likewise, I applaud ADM Harris’ speech for his courage. He exercised his First Amendment rights despite the pressure for uniformed military leaders to be politically correct. It was a truly inspiring speech which honored the victims and survivors of the December 7 attacks appropriately.

    • How ironic that an American Admiral of both Japanese and White ethnicity would be making an address at 75th Anniversary of the “sneak attack”! Better yet during the latter part of the month, the Prime Minister of Japan will visit the memorial. In 1951 Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida after signing the peace treaty with the allies in San Francisco visited Pearl Harbor before the Memorial was constructed.

  • Not standing during the song or burning a flag hurts no one. If no one heard about it, it would not affect your life or that of anyone else. It is your right to stand and put your hand on your heart. It is also your right to speak out about your feelings or to just ignore it. But to make it a criminal offense will start us down a very dark road because where will you draw the line? For instance, what about not removing your hat, not standing at complete attention,…? Who gets to say?

  • Says another white man of other white people. People need to realize the National Anthem was written by a slave owner who mentions slaves in the third stanza and how this is not their America. How would you feel singing that over and over. I give Kaepernick a lot of credit for standing down for what he believes in. He is not the first African American athlete to do so. Jackie Robinson did too. He has the right and people should get over it. Mostly white people.

  • Listen to the song, look at the flag, think about all the rights and privileges you have by being an American. Tell me now how you cannot appreciate the past sacrifices of many who had given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve those things for you. Damn it, be appreciative for what you have. Those who died to give you these things don’t have these things to enjoy. Quit all the reading between the lines, arguing senselessly over things that really don’t count. Give your life to preserve these things for others to enjoy or leave the country. You’re all a bunch of cry babies – get a life and do something noteworthy for your flag and country. Be a proud American, respect your fellow countrymen, flag and anthem, can’t you at least do that much? I voted, I served, I love my country and for all that it stands for – the good and perhaps the bad.

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