The widow of a former NFL player who died while serving in the U.S. Army issued a powerful response to President Donald Trump using her husband’s name to criticize athletes who protest the national anthem.
Trump on Monday retweeted a post that invoked former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who left the NFL to join the Army Rangers in 2002 and was killed by friendly fire two years later. The tweet in question urged fans to boycott the NFL in response to the dozens of players who sat out the national anthem on Sunday to call attention to racial injustice. Trump repeated this sentiment several times throughout the weekend and on Monday.
Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag --- we MUST honor and respect it! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Tremendous backlash against the NFL and its players for disrespect of our Country.#StandForOurAnthem🇺🇸
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
Marie Tillman rebuked Trump’s comments, saying that her husband died to protect freedoms including the right to peacefully protest.
“The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for,” she told CNN’s Brian Stelter. “Even if they didn’t always agree with those views. It is my sincere hope that our leaders both understand and learn from the lessons of Pat’s life and death, and also those of so many other brave Americans.”
It’s not the first Marie Tillman has spoken out against Trump. In January, she also denounced his controversial executive order banning travel from several majority-Muslim countries.
“This is not the country [Pat] dreamed of, not what he served for and not what he died for,” she said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.