June 20, 2016Dear Patriots,
The attack on the religious freedom for those who protect our nation has now come down to this: you can't even retire from the military with your freedom of religion and speech intact.
As our friends at First Liberty Institute have alerted us today, retired U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez was invited to recite a traditional flag-folding speech at a retirement ceremony at Travis Air Force Base for Master Sergeant Charles Roberson. Rodriguez came at the request of Master Sergeant Roberson, who asked him explicitly to give the traditional version of the speech -- which acknowledges God -- instead of the more politically-correct version recently updated by the Pentagon.
Apparently, Roberson's commanding officers thought this speech was much too dangerous to be heard by the audience. The traditional speech ends with these words:
It is this one nation under God that we call, with honor, the United States of America. God Bless our flag. God bless our troops. God bless America.
When Oscar Rodriguez began the speech that contains this perceived-threatening speech, Roberson's commander, Colonel Raymond A. Kozak, had several uniformed men forcibly remove Rodriguez from the room during the ceremony as the U.S. flag was being folded. Rodriguez continued to recite the speech as he was thrown out of the room.
Let me be very clear about what happened here. Retired Senior Master Sergeant Rodriguez was invited by the retiree to give the speech. Upon doing what he was invited to do, he was forcibly removed by uniformed service members who had no authority to assault him. A retired service member not in uniform, an invited guest, was thrown out of a private ceremony upon the mention of the name of God.
Egregious attacks on the faith of our service members like this cannot stand. Master Sergeant Charles Roberson's retirement ceremony should have been about his service, his family and colleagues, and the faith that saw him through it. Instead, by assaulting Oscar Rodriguez as he made this recitation of a long-standing traditional speech, his commander made a mockery of the oath that Master Sergeant Roberson took when he began his career in the United States Air Force. That oath he took ended with the phrase, "So help me God".
Please join me in signing the petition to Colonel Raymond A. Kozak, who is the commander of the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base. Let him know that shameful actions like this to stamp out the faith of our service members will not be tolerated. No commander can usurp the religious freedoms of a service member at his or her discretion for any reason.
Lt. Gen. (US Army-Ret.) William "Jerry" Boykin
Executive Vice President