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Jun 20, 2016 by Rik Bokelman

Video: Veteran Forcibly Dragged from Air Force Ceremony for Mentioning God

When a veteran started offering traditional remarks at a military flag-folding ceremony, several uniformed airmen dragged him out of the room. The reason: his remarks mentioned God, reports Breitbart News. Lawyers representing retired Senior Master Sergeant Oscar Rodriguez are demanding that the U.S. Air Force apologize.

For many years service members have given the flag-folding speech at military and civic events, and retirements of veterans. Traditionally the speech explains the colors, symbols, and history of the flag. The speech also contains several religious references, including: 'Let us pray that God will reflect with admiration the willingness of one nation in her attempts to rid the world of tyranny, oppression, and misery. It is this one nation under God that we call, with honor, the United States of America.'

In 2005, the Pentagon changed the speech to remove all references to God. But many service members prefer the traditional speech when the speech is proclaimed during for instance their own retirement celebrations. The speech closes with the words: 'God bless our flag. God bless our troops. God bless America.'

Rodriguez retired from the Air Force in 2013 after 33 years of service to his nation. He has a clear and distinctive voice and is frequently asked to deliver the flag-folding speech at retirement ceremonies. On April 3, 2016, Master Sergeant Charles Roberson was retiring from active duty. Rodriguez was asked to give the traditional flag-folding speech at Travis Air Force Base.

According to a demand letter sent by First Liberty Institute on Monday, when the squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sovitsky, learned that Rodriguez would give the traditional speech mentioning God, he expressed his opposition and allegedly tried to block it.

The video above shows Rodriguez taking his position and beginning his flag-folding speech. Four uniformed airmen surround him, seize him, and drag him out of the room.

Rodriguez retained First Liberty Institute, a law firm in the United States exclusively dedicated to protecting religious liberty. First Liberty is representing Rodriguez free of charge. “Mr. Rodriguez has a constitutional right to free speech and religious expression, even on a military base,” responds Mike Berry, director of military affairs for First Liberty. “The military broke the law and abused its power. We expect the Air Force to hold those responsible accountable.”

“It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life,” Rodriguez said to Breitbart News. “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.”



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