Thanks John Wells for taking a ‘stand’

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I do not personally know John Wells, but he is my hero.

More than a week ago, Mr. Wells, a retired Navy Commander, rejected an offer to be honored by the New Orleans Saints prior to their Oct. 29 game vs. the Chicago Bears.

The Saints, during their home games, pay tribute to the exceptional achievements of Louisiana residents age 65 and older. The honor is referenced as the Peoples Health Champion Award. Kudos to the Saints front office for recognizing those worthy of that honor.

However, that same pro organization is now expressing disappointment over the fact that Wells thumbed his nose at them.

Well, as the old adage goes, “What goes around comes around.”

Mr. Wells turned down the offer, saying he will not enter an NFL stadium due to the ongoing national anthem protests.

“Although I am touched and honored to be selected for such an award, the ongoing controversy with NFL players’ disrespect for the national flag forces me to decline to participate in the presentation,” Wells wrote in a statement to the media. “I am unable, in good conscience, to enter an NFL stadium while this discourtesy prevails. Since this award is tainted with the dishonorable actions of the NFL and its players, I cannot accept it.”

Wells serves as the executive director of Military Veterans Advocacy.

He described the national anthem protests as “a slap in the face” to military veterans.

“Men and women have fought and died for the flag that the players are disrespecting,” Wells wrote.

On the other side of the issue, the Saints brass called the decision made by Wells as “unfortunate and disappointing.”

“Unfortunately, he has chosen very publicly not to accept this honor and refused the opportunity to promote the very cause for which he was being honored and distract from awareness we hoped to build throughout our community. We respect his decision, he has that right, and we thank him for his service to our country and his past efforts on behalf of the military and veterans.”

The Saints front office went out of their way to point out that every New Orleans player has stood for the national anthem since the franchise was founded in 1967….that is outside of Week 3 this season where “a few of our players did sit.”

Since that time, the Saints have chosen to take a knee on the field prior to the anthem in a show of unity against racism and social injustice before rising and standing for the anthem.

So, my point is to the Saints ownership, staff, coaches and players…now do ya’ll see how “disappointing” your actions have been during all this flag flap?

It’s like I stated in this same space a few weeks ago, professional athletes can air their grievances over racism and social injustices all they want. They just need another platform to make their statement…..not just before, during, or just after the playing of our National Anthem and the display of the American Flag.

They can scream at the top of their lungs that by taking a knee is not a show of disrespect to our nation’s men and women in the Armed Forces (past or present). Yes it is!! And Mr. Wells, through his actions, just told you it is.

Just in case anyone missed this very important piece of American history, one of the reasons we stand at the playing of our anthem is because of what happened on the night that Francis Scott Key penned those words in 1812 while the British Navy fired on Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

The British Commander had vowed to stop shelling once the Americans lowered the flag flying over the fort and surrendered.

We didn’t surrender, and that infuriated the Brits. They aimed every gun they had at that flag and unmercifully shelled it all night.

“By dawn’s early light” our flag was still there, full of holes and barely clinging to a pole tilted sideways. And just how did that flag and pole survive? Because brave men “on the ramparts” took turns throughout the night to ensure that flag would not fall. Many of them died in this effort, but as they fell, another stood in their place.

They stood, and so should we.

Thank you Mr. Wells for being a true American. God bless you and keep you.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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