“It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life,” retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez said after he was dragged off-stage during a retirement ceremony for simply mentioning God.
“To have the Air Force assault me and drag me out of a retirement ceremony simply because my speech included the word ‘God’ is something I never expected from our military.”
For decades the “flag-folding speech” has been recited at both military and civil events, including retirement ceremonies. The speech typically is used to signify the importance of all the aspects of our flag, and up until 2005 the speech referenced God.
The word “God” no longer exists in the speech that is given today, and has been replaced with such things as facts about the moon landing, and other historical achievements in America. However, recently retired Master Sergeant Charles ‘Chuck’ Roberson had requested that the original speech be given at his retirement ceremony, and having heard Rodriguez give the speech before, he requested him to deliver it.
Unfortunately, upon finding out that the original speech would be delivered on Travis Air Force Base, Roberson’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sovitsky expressed his opposition, and even went as far as trying to block Rodriguez from participating. Being that it was Roberson’s personal request, he pushed for Rodriguez to do it anyway. After all, it was HIS ceremony.
The event went according to plan, at first, but that’s when the unthinkable happened. While Rodriguez was delivering his speech, four men in uniform walked up to Rodriguez, and forcibly removed him from the ceremony. All of this because Rodriguez invoked God in a speech after being requested to do so by his fellow patriot.
Rodriguez, who is a private citizen, was thrown off the base entirely – simply for honoring a request. Shortly after that, he retained First Liberty Institute as his legal counsel. FLI is the largest religious liberties law firm in the nation, and agreed to represent Rodriguez free of charge.
Director of military affairs for First Liberty Institute Mike Berry issued the following statement in regards to the situation surrounding Rodriguez:
“Mr. Rodriguez has a constitutional right to free speech and religious expression, even on a military base. The military broke the law and abused its power. We expect the Air Force to hold those responsible accountable, and allow Mr. Rodriguez to continue honoring the flag and other veterans who have sacrificed for our country.”
FLI also sent a letter to the Air Force, demanding the following:
1.) Issue a written apology to Rodriquez
2.) Admit the Air Force violated Rodriguez’s rights
3.) A written promise that Rodriguez is welcome to return to the base, and use legally protected free speech
4.) “Punitive action against those determined to be responsible for violating Mr. Rodriguez’s constitutional rights”
The law firm took it a step further, and launched standwithoscar.com in order to gain support for Rodriguez. Berry, in a later interview, unleashed his frustration with the entire situation, stating:
“Americans should be outraged at seeing uniformed military personnel drag away a decorated veteran who is honoring his friend, simply because he invoked God’s blessing with traditional remarks.”
Here is the video of Rodriguez, who served 33 years, being forcibly removed from the ceremony. Warning, this will make your blood boil:
Never have I seen such blatant disrespect towards a veteran by FELLOW SERVICEMEN! The Constitution defends free speech, but apparently that doesn’t include the mentioning of God. Aren’t these men supposed to be defending our freedoms and liberties?
Thank you Oscar Rodriguez for honoring your fellow airman’s request, and standing up for the Lord!