Members of the U.S. armed forces are apparently skilled to take on verbal attacks even when on home soil.
Two U.S. soldiers shopping at a Houston area Walmart have received kudos for the way they conducted themselves when they were the target of verbal abuse by another customer last week, KPRC Click2Houston reported.
Dressed in their fatigues, the soldiers were shopping when a customer began following them and berating them. Another customer began to record the incident as it transpired.
“Y’all are over there in other folks’ business and y’all don’t have any rights, y’all ain’t nothing but killers,” the man yelled to the male and female soldiers, who kept calm and did not let the situation escalate. In fact, they noted that the irate customer’s rant was his Constitutional right.
“If you do feel like America is not the country for you or whatever, then that’s your right, your prerogative, you can do whatever you want, that’s why I put my uniform on,” Staff Sgt. Santevius Davis said.
During the video, another customer was seen walking up to Davis and Staff. Sgt. Linda Bates, thanking them for their service as he shook their hands. A Walmart employee was also seen leading away the man who was attacking the soldiers.
A woman whose son is in the Navy told KPRC that she was “disappointed” by the incident.
“Regardless of what they do over there, it’s still giving us that freedom of not only of speech but the freedom of living in the U.S.,” Sandra Pazmino said.
Mike Sehzue, who served as an officer in the U.S. Army for six years echoed those feelings.
“It makes me feel sad to hear that citizens will feel the need to voice their opinion, especially negative opinions, to our men and women in uniform,” he told KPRC, adding that the soldiers handled the situation well.
In a statement, Walmart said, “We strive to maintain a safe environment and create an enjoyable shopping experience for every customer.”
“I’ve been in the Army (for) 10 years and that’s the first time it’s every happened to me,” Davis told KPRC in a follow-up interview.
“Honestly I was completely shocked because we are in Houston and the Houstonians are so supportive of the military,” Bates said. “When it first went on, I thought it was a joke. I was completely shocked because I’ve been in the Army for 14 years. It’s never happened to me.”
She stressed that the man’s freedom to express himself, however, is exactly why “we do what we do.”
“This is why we put on our uniform, so you can come out and express your opinions, however you see fit,” Davis said. “There are a lot of places where half the stuff he said, you wouldn’t even be able to get it out before bad things happen to you, but this is why we do what we do, and for him to come up and disparage us like that, so he can exercise his First Amendment right, it’s just funny.”
She explained that as service members, they are “taught to face through adversity and take the high road and move on,” adding that the man was not only rude to them and the Walmart employees, he continued his insults outside of the store.
“He followed us all the way back to our truck. It was way more disrespectful than what was caught on the clip,” Davis said.
“I want people to view us as human beings because, at the end of the day, I’m someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter and sister. We’re human. We’re not killers. We’re not monsters or anything like that,” Bates, a mother of three who, along with Davis, works with U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Houston, said.
“I serve so that all Americans can have freedom and express themselves,” she added, “and I too am a regular American that chose to serve.”
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