Onlookers honor the memory of Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. This impromptu memorial was placed at the corner of 4th St. and Water St., where Heyer was struck by an automobile that plowed into a crowd as she protested against a white nationalist rally. The service Chiefs of the US Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Army have all denounced the events in Charlottesville and said the military community is stronger together. Air Force Magazine photo by Abby Brissett.
As the country contemplates the meaning of the violence and turmoil in Charlottesville, Va., the heads of the military have come out unambiguously opposing it.
Following the death of Heather Heyer, who was struck by a car that plowed into counter protesters resisting a white nationalist rally, which itself resisted the dismantling of Confederate-era monuments, pressure mounted on public officials to take a stance in the issue. President Donald Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence, and placed white supremacists and counter protesters on equal footing. Over the past few days, however, tweets from top military commanders gave a different message.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said he and his “fellow service Chiefs” agree the military is “stronger together.”
— Gen. Dave Goldfein (@GenDaveGoldfein) August 16, 2017
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson didn’t send out her own message via Twitter, but did retweet Goldfein’s message.
Days earlier, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson called the violence “unacceptable” and said it shouldn’t be “tolerated.”
— Adm. John Richardson (@CNORichardson) August 13, 2017
On Tuesday, USMC Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said there’s no place for “racial hatred or extremism” in the Marine Corps.
No place for racial hatred or extremism in @USMC. Our core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment frame the way Marines live and act.
— Robert B. Neller (@GenRobertNeller) August 15, 2017
And hours before Goldfein’s tweet, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley tweeted the Army doesn’t tolerate “racism, hatred, or extremism.”
The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.
— GEN Mark A. Milley (@ArmyChiefStaff) August 16, 2017
Speaking at a press event about the escalating tension between the US, South Korea, and North Korea, UN General Secretary António Guterres was asked about Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville protests, particularly that of equating the protestors and those opposing them, rather than condemning one side or the other.
“Racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, Islamophobia are poisoning our societies and it’s absolutely essential for us all to stand up against them,” Guterres said. “Tolerance, respect for others, the importance of recognition of diversity, and to be able to stand for these values—and at the same time to condemn all forms of irrationality that undermine those values—is essential at the moment, be it the United States or anywhere else in the world.”