Pence’s patriotic fervor not based on his own military service, but of his father’s and his son’s – USA TODAY

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SportsPulse: Trysta Krick speaks with USA TODAY Sports reporter Nancy Armour about Vice President Mike Pence’s controversial exit from an NFL game this past weekend.
USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — When Vice President Pence walked out of Sunday’s Indianapolis Colts game after some 49ers players knelt during the national anthem, Pence said he was standing up for members of the military.

“I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem,” Pence tweeted Sunday.

Speaking last month at a political rally in Alabama after President Trump said NFL players who kneel should be fired, Pence emphasized even more his view that standing is about supporting service members.

“It’s about respect for the flag, respect for the country,” Pence said. “And most importantly, it’s about respect for all those who fought and died to defend it.” 

Pence, 58, has not served in the military. But he has talked emotionally about the Bronze Star his father earned in the Korean War, and about his son’s service in the Marines. And both Pence and his wife, Karen, have done numerous events with veterans and current service members since taking office.

That started hours after his inauguration when Pence — after dancing with an Air Force master sergeant at an official ball for members of the military — made a surprise stop at one of the many unofficial inaugural parties, the American Legion’s Veterans Inaugural Ball.

 

“American now has a president who will rebuild our military,” Pence promised.  

(A spokesman for the American Legion said after Pence’s departure from Sunday’s game that the vice president had “a right to listen to his conscience” and leave “if he felt that was the right thing to do. The Indiana branch of the national group said Sunday it will “lead by example” and not boycott the NFL.)

The Pences have visited with members of the military during their overseas trips, hosted a group of bicyclists raising money for wounded veterans, welcomed to the White House veterans who came to Washington on “Honor Flights,” and hosted service members and their families at the vice president’s residence.

“My life never took me into the armed forces, but I’m proud to say that my dad served in the United States Army and served in Korea,” Pence told a group of Vietnam veterans from Indiana last month. “And I’m an especially proud father of a United States Marine.”

When Pence traveled to South Korea in April, the commanding officer accompanying him to the Demilitarized Zone pointed him in the direction of Pork Chop Hill, where Pence’s father fought in the 45th Infantry Division.

Pence’s father didn’t talk much about his time in combat, and kept his Bronze Star in a desk. Pence now proudly displays the medal in his office.

Meaningful visit to DMZ where 64 years ago my dad earned Bronze Star in Korean War. His medal stays close in my West Wing office. #VPinASIApic.twitter.com/e2OCJsEiIK

— Vice President Pence (@VP) April 17, 2017

Karen Pence wears a Marine Corps necklace to honor their son, Michael. She’s described her role as a “listening ear” for the Trump administration for concerns faced by members of the military.

Honored to host military families with @VP for #MilitaryAppreciationMonth. Even our rabbit, #MarlonBundo made a special appearance. 🐰🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/u4HZ8A7vnD

— Karen Pence (@SecondLady) May 9, 2017

The vice president referred to his wife as his “commanding officer” when delivering the commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in May. Pence encouraged the graduates to follow their own chain of command, practice self-control and have integrity. 

And he promised President Trump will be the best friend the military could have.

“No matter where you’re called to serve, no matter what the mission” Pence said, “this commander-in-chief will always have your back.”

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