U.S. flags sit in front of graves in remembrance of Memorial Day at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. DoD photo

Legion Commander calls on Commentator to Apologize

The head of the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization is calling on an MSNBC host to apologize for saying that he was “uncomfortable” referring to America’s war dead as heroes. “It is outrageous that a highly paid network commentator is willing to enjoy the benefits of freedom, sit in an air conditioned studio on Memorial Day weekend and question the heroism of the men and women who have died for this great country,” said American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong. “More than 6,400 young American men and women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the best that America has to offer. I wonder if Mr. Hayes would say to the three young children of Sergeant Dennis Weichel that their father, who died saving a young Afghan boy, is not a hero. Men and women voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way so commentators like Chris Hayes can spew their unpatriotic nonsense. He should immediately apologize.”

Update: The MSNBC commentator has apologized.


  1. Hayes has since issued an apology. From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/chris-hayes-uncomfortable-soldiers-heroes_n_1550643.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003: On Sunday, in discussing the uses of the word "hero" to describe those members of the armed forces who have given their lives, I don't think I lived up to the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I've set for myself. I am deeply sorry for that. As many have rightly pointed out, it's very easy for me, a TV host, to opine about the people who fight our wars, having never dodged a bullet or guarded a post or walked a mile in their boots. Of course, that is true of the overwhelming majority of our nation's citizens as a whole. One of the points made during Sunday's show was just how removed most Americans are from the wars we fight, how small a percentage of our population is asked to shoulder the entire burden and how easy it becomes to never read the names of those who are wounded and fight and die, to not ask questions about the direction of our strategy in Afghanistan, and to assuage our own collective guilt about this disconnect with a pro-forma ritual that we observe briefly before returning to our barbecues. But in seeking to discuss the civilian-military divide and the social distance between those who fight and those who don't, I ended up reinforcing it, conforming to a stereotype of a removed pundit whose views are not anchored in the very real and very wrenching experience of this long decade of war. And for that I am truly sorry.
  2. Definition of a HERO: a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. ENOUGH SAID...NO QUESTIONS ASKED!
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