John Lewis is My American Hero

50th  Anniversary of the Civil Rights march From Selma to Momtgomery Alabama. The Edmund Pettus bridge in the background.

I had the great honor of marching at the 50th anniversary of the Selma, Alabama march two years ago and one of its American heroes, John Lewis, has made statements that weigh heavily on my heart today. On this Martin Luther King Day, I think it is very important we remember these powerful words from Martin Luther King Jr:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Mr. Lewis is one of my personal heroes, as is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but he has publicly stated that the current President-Elect of the United States was not legitimately elected to the office, that he would boycott the inauguration ceremony marking the peaceful transfer of power, and that he will not work with the incoming President.

Mr. Lewis made these partisan comments based on misinformation leaked by the U.S. intelligence community to and printed by so-called credible major media outlets. I do not believe the John Lewis of the civil rights march in Selma would have made those comments in an attempt to de-legitimize the election process because he fought so hard for all Americans to vote in the process. He would not want to damage it purely to weaken an incoming President of the opposing party based on false information. After all, he would see the peaceful transfer of power between opposing parties for what it is; the singular event that confirms why he and his colleagues fought so hard to get the right to vote, becoming full participants in the world’s greatest republican democracy. That is why Mr. Lewis is my American hero, even now.

What we have to remember is that today’s Congressman John Lewis is a career politician who has spent decades in political party politics. That John Lewis cannot be my hero because he has it within himself to work to de-legitimize a duly elected President and boycott the ceremony marking the world’s longest running peaceful transfer of power. You see, if one boycotts that ceremony and is of the stature of Mr. Lewis, then he is actually advocating for the opposite, violence in power transfer. I fought against violence in politics around the world for over three decades in the American armed forces, and I stand up to raise my voice to those like Mr. Lewis, that they are wrong, so wrong for practicing partisanship at a time when we should all be practicing Americanism.

As Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse commented to Mr. Lewis, this is not about a man. He is right, this America, this dream is not about one man; it is about millions of us, like my hero, Mr. John Lewis of the Selma civil rights march and people like me who believe in it enough to risk everything to protect it and our people. I will make the trip from Louisiana, and be there standing by the reflecting pool, so I can have the privilege of witnessing firsthand the world’s greatest peaceful transfer of power that I fought so hard to ensure. I invite you Congressman Lewis and all Americans, no matter what side they are on, to join me also. God bless all those American heroes who cannot witness it, because without them, it would not keep happening.