Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, during a meeting with Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, at the Bayi Building in Beijing on Nov. 3, 2015
Andy Wong-Pool /Getty Images

During a speech commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Wednesday, a Navy admiral took a dig at Colin Kaepernick and his national anthem protest.

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, was addressing a crowd of World War II veterans and survivors of the battle just yards away from where the USS Arizona battleship sank and more than 1,170 of its crew members were killed when he made the questionable comments, the Washington Post reports.

Advertisement

“You can bet that the men and women we honor today—and those who died that fateful morning 75 years ago—never took a knee and never failed to stand whenever they heard our national anthem being played,” Harris said.

A tweet from the Associated Press with video footage of the speech shows the crowd cheering in response to Harris’ remarks. The Pentagon’s official Twitter account also tweeted video of the speech and quoted the “never took a knee” portion of Harris’ speech, but the tweet was later deleted.

According to the Post, when asked why the tweet was deleted, Gordon Trowbridge, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said, “We deleted the tweet because we decided we didn’t want to weigh in on something that could be construed as political.”

Advertisement

Advertisement

“It’s not really appropriate for an admiral to call out an athlete on exercising his right to free speech,” Phillip Carter, a former Army officer and Pentagon official who leads the military, veterans and society program at the Center for a New American Security, told the Post. “The greatest irony is that the military exists to protect free speech and it’s absurd for a member of the military to call out someone for using those rights.”

Read more at the Washington Post.