MARCH 2021 POLICY COUNSEL SPEECHES
FLAG – Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness
Nick Adams: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, members of the Executive Committee of the Council for National Policy, members, ladies, and gentlemen. I have waited many years to give an address to this particular organization, and I am delighted and most grateful to Mr. McEwen for giving me this opportunity.
The remarks that I had prepared and thought that I would give changed just a couple of days ago. Less than 72 hours ago, I lost my father at the age of 64. After a 5-week battle with COVID and a complication of pneumonia, he passed away. My father’s dying wish was that I continue my work and that I keep my speaking engagement here. While gasping for oxygen in my last FaceTime call with him, he said “Make sure you go to Florida and speak.” So today I honor my father by being here with all of you.
My father was not only my father. My father was my best friend, he was my business partner, he was my mentor, he was my teacher, he was my coach, he was my grandfather, he was my uncle, he was everything. He taught me everything that I know. He taught me what conservatism was. He taught me how important it is to be patriotic and to be principled. At the age of eight, he gave me a book of Winston Churchill speeches and told me not only to read the book, but to read it multiple times, and to memorize as much of it as I possibly could.
My father told me that the only country left worth saving, he had come to realize, was the United States of America. My father was 61 years old when he finally got to visit this great country. And, he said to me, “Nick, America waited 60 years for me.” He told me, in many ways, he’d always felt as though he was an American. He was a bold man, individualistic, didn’t like to conform, liked to be different. And of course, here in the United States of America, these are values that are embraced. These are values that are cherished, that are admired.
I resolved at the start of this year that I would begin every presentation by saying that despite having lived here in the United States now for most of the last 10 years, and despite this hardly being America’s finest hour, I still wake up every single day and thank God that I woke up in the United States of America. The Left, in this country, often speak of privilege in fictional terms. White privilege, straight privilege, male privilege. But the truth is that in the United States of America there is only one type of privilege, and that’s American privilege. Whether we were born here or whether we moved here permanently, we won the lottery of life.
This is a message that I deliver every single day, in person, online, and in elementary, middle, and public high schools all across America. This is the best country in the world to be born in, to work in, to live in, to start a business in, to realize a dream. This is the only country in the world where you can blaze a trail and leave a legacy; where you can color outside of the lines and not be punished; where success is not yet resented but still admired and aspired to; where failure is not fatal; where you can fall down 5,000 times, but if you’ve got grit, determination, and hustle, you can get up 5,001. Thomas Edison had a thousand cracks at the lightbulb. Colonel Sanders had his recipe for fried chicken rejected 1,009 times before he got a taker. Again and again, the theme throughout American history has been that those with passion, those with perseverance, those with endurance, end up leaving a legacy well beyond their time on this Earth.
This year, the United States will celebrate her 245th birthday, a time for great celebration, but I would also submit a time for sober and somber contemplation. Because if you go and ask any historian worth their salt how long great nations tend to last, they’ll tell you somewhere between 230 and 270 years. So, the question now becomes, how does the United States of America achieve something never achieved before. How does she get to her third centennial? How does she celebrate her 300th birthday?
We must be all in for America. Whenever I contemplate the future of the United States, I always fall back on my political heroes: Winston Churchill, Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln, especially Abraham Lincoln. All of my life, his story has propelled me forward. When I think of what it means to be an American, when I think of everything that is embodied in an American, when I think of American exceptionalism, I think of Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was a common man who became an uncommon leader. An ordinary man with extraordinary desire. He lived life full and died empty. Born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, grew up in Illinois. No elementary school, no middle school, no high school, no college education. Everything he learned, he taught himself. He was a physically strong man, a wrestler, who purportedly never, ever backed down from a fight. The qualities that define Abraham Lincoln – strength, perseverance, courage, and determination – are the qualities that we need everywhere around us as we try to make our third centennial.
Lincoln lost his first six elections. He had a poor relationship with his father. His first love died. He lost three of his four children. But Lincoln was a titan, and titans have a heart too big to fail. Their passion, too intense to deny, their spirit somehow irrepressible. Yes, it’s true for one point Lincoln could not get out of bed for six months. But he persevered, and he pushed, and he rallied to get up one more time, to try again. Again and again, Lincoln ran toward his dreams. He was relentless, unstoppable, unwavering, unyielding, a true force of nature. And in the end, despite all of the tragedy, despite all of the loss, despite all of the misfortune, despite all of the disappointment, Lincoln rose to become a man most important at a critical time in American history. A man whose legacy still lives on more than 150 years after his death.
So, let it be the great lesson for us at our time of grief, at our time of mourning the America that we seem to be losing, that seems to be evaporating in front of us. Whether personal or political, let us have the lesson that here in the United States, anything is possible. Anything can be overcome. We are Americans, and we had the most amazing beginnings. Our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, our Federalist Papers, our founding principles. Let us fight for individualism over collectivism; patriotism over relativism; God over government; faith over secularism; equality of opportunity, not equity; E Pluribus Unum, not radical multiculturalism. Let’s be bold and not be bland.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is our legacy. Let the history books record that there was an unprecedented threat on American liberty, but we responded with gallantry and patriotism, unintimidated by the cultural bullies, undaunted by the odds and undeterred by the scale of the fight ahead of us.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, God bless you and God bless America.
Do Life Differently
Holy cow! I’m so excited to get to round out the day. This is sort of a dream for me, kind of a lifetime list opportunity for me to spend time with the incredible Council for National Policy. I actually prayed quite a bit and thought quite a bit about what I would share with this incredible group.
The first thing that came to mind was my theme for 2021 – Best, Bold, Hope. Now, I’m kind of crazy, I’ve got an acronym for all of those words. But Best, Bold, Hope is what I’m focused on in 2021. That was a work in progress in the fourth quarter of 2020, thinking about what I want to be all about in this calendar year, coming off one of the strangest years in the history of the world.
The second thing I thought about when I thought about CNP at heart level was three words: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This group, the Council for National Policy, is all about those three words. My heart resonates with that message in this world because you and your communities throughout America stand in the gap on the critical nature of those words in the history of the greatest country in the world.
I put those two things together. Best, Bold, Hope and Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and I got:
- Life at Its Best
- Bold Liberty
- Hope for Happiness
Let’s talk about those three things. First of all, life at its best. I am looking at a crowd of people that exudes life at its best. And I’m convinced we have this opportunity as leaders across our country to show the world what that looks like. Now, for me, the word BEST is an acronym and has been for many years.
I love those four words in the context of the word BEST, especially as you think about pursuing life with those words. The reality is that life at its best to me is not only the Council for National Policy but is that afternoon right there on the screen in front of you. Those are my two best friends in my history at the Council for National Policy, and I know some of you folks recognize them. They’re iconic, wonderful members that were in this audience for many, many years, doing life at its best, I can tell you.
That afternoon is exactly what three Texans would be all about. There’s Stacy Taylor and Joe Calvert. We’re all mounted up. We’ve been for a big ride and just returned back in the adventure of life. And I’m convinced that God has called each of us to be in a life adventure with God as our guide and exhibit joy in everything we do.
I’m passionate about this crazy book (The Bible). I’ve spent as much as time as I possibly can in this book. I want to be, I seek to be like a deer that panteth after water, so my soul panteth after Him. And I admonish you to consider that. I also want to challenge you. I love you, and I apologize, because I don’t have the stature or the standing in this room to admonish you or challenge you. But let me tell you something, if the world does not experience you, as this joyous life adventurer, thriving in a way that’s different, then we need to step up our game, and do life at its best like Stacy Taylor and Joe Calvert. I want to challenge you to consider that with me. We’ve got to be the people in the world that everyone else says we want to be like them. We want to rock life with them in a way that’s really powerful.
So, pursuing life at its best with joy and thriving, and the focus that I’m thinking about right now is so difficult in this crazy world. There is so much negativity, so many lies. In fact, the world is extremely good at lying to us. But we have a focus that is a word that I love to talk about that nobody knows, and it’s THRPLA. Whatsoever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, let our minds dwell on those things, not on the crap that this world on the Left is putting in front of us, and putting in front of our children. We have got to be THRPLA and stand for what’s true in the world in a way that’s uncommon.
The last thing I want to ask you about in the context of life at its best is a word that I ask crowds about all the time. The word is ORDINARY. In fact, I love to write it on a big marker board and say “Ordinary! What do you think about that word?” And when I do that with a group like this that’s extraordinary, the group says that’s not what we’re going for. You know, the greatest man in the history of the world, the only one that truly got it right, said this: “I came that you might have life, and have it to the full,” meaning extraordinary. If you write the word ordinary and then add extra, the “t” you’ll find is the middle letter of extra, and it encompasses that whole thing. And if you really look at that “t,” you’ll find that there’s a cross in there. And that cross, like Stacy, like Joe Calvert, that cross, that’s the iconic person, that we have this opportunity to run after in a life that matters in our communities.
The next one is BOLD LIBERTY. Why I got to thinking about that word – bold liberty. Braveheart: “All men die. Not all men truly live.” For our purpose, all men and women die, but not all truly live. It is time for us to stand for liberty. I’m convinced that it’s time for us to stand for liberty, much like the Founding Fathers did during their time in a critical way. My sweet wife Cindy has printed this on my closet wall. That’s literally a picture that she took of my closet wall. Psalm 45: Gird your sword upon your side, o mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. In your majesty ride forth victoriously on behalf of truth, humility and righteousness; let your right hand display awesome deeds.
You know, what we have to do is impossible. Isn’t that fabulous? That we can’t do it; only with God. Only with the strength of God in our right hand. This word liberty, I took occasion to ask Siri – I think she’s liberal – and I asked her what liberty was. You know what she said? Liberty is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, and political views. Wow! Even Siri, the liberal, gets that right.
Finally, I want to close with the thought of our HOPE FOR HAPPINESS. First of all, America needs us in this room to have BOLD HOPE more than ever before. There’s three “isms” that I talk a lot about. The first “ism” is the one I hate, and it’s pessimism. Pessimism never helps us. It won’t help us today, even though there’s reason for us to be pessimistic. The next is optimism. Then we’ve got a middle one, and it’s realism. I talk to people a lot about this critical nature for us to have realistic optimism in our life. We’ve got to be aware. It’s the truth that will set us free. Be optimistic, not pessimistic.
The final thing I want to share with you is something I’ve been kind of working on. Have you read the book Rules for Radicals? I really don’t recommend it, and I certainly don’t want to buy it to support whoever would get the money from you buying it. But that book is a little bit scary. I put together a chart of Saul Alinsky’s positions so that you will remember what many of our current political leaders today subscribe to and state: These are our marching orders! You know, if you’re playing an athletic event, and the other teams game plan gets put right in front of you, this is it. This is their eight things. Does it look familiar? My gosh, it’s familiar! Now I’ve spent a little bit of time on the right, and here’s what we believe. We’re not divide and conquer – we’re unify and liberate. We’re not create scapegoats – we create believers around us. We don’t create chaos – we create love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we think about our value proposition versus those knuckleheads on the left, are you kidding me? What do you think America wants? My goodness y’all, we’ve got an opportunity. I get it, there’s room for fear in our world, and that’s very prevalent. But you know what the most powerful motivator in the world is? It’s love. It’s going to the world in a way that’s different, that’s kind and abiding and loving. The truth will set you free and truth will always triumph over deception and chaos and political trash talk and disinformation.
I’m so grateful to have the opportunity this afternoon to round out the great Council for National Policy. Understand that this is kind of a lifetime list thing for me, and I’m so grateful to share some comments with you that I hope were motivational. God speed to you.
Founder, Shields of Strength
Recipient, First Liberty Institute’s Stand for Liberty Award
KELLY SHACKELFORD (PRESIDENT AND CEO, FIRST LIBERTY INSTITUTE): How did you get to be this guy that has a passion for really loving other people and doing things for others?
KENNY VAUGHAN: I grew up as a long-distance ski jumper. By the way, this is a secret tip that no one else will know. One of the things you get asked as a ski jumper is “What does it feel like when you’re flying 70 mph going the length of a football field?” And I think, “What do I tell you?” But yesterday, we went to Universal Studios and rode The Hulk. It’s a rollercoaster, and I am telling you that, when that thing launches from there, every fiber of my being thought I was coming off the top of the ramp. That’s what it feels like to be a ski jumper.
KELLY: But go before that. Tell us about your upbringing. How did you get to be the guy you are? Why did you even want to do ski jumping?
KENNY: My dad was a skier, but I would say that my heart got changed in school. In 5th grade, I ran for junior high track. In 7th grade, I ran for the high school track. I was popular; I knew everyone. In 8th grade, I stopped growing. And by 10th grade, I was eating lunch by myself every day. All the people who used to save chairs for me at the lunch table, when I would try to sit down, they would say that the chair was taken.
And I knew why they were saying that. I knew them all. In my heart, I knew that they were afraid. I used to beat them up two at a time. I knew why they were doing that. So, I just stayed by myself. But when I sat myself, I found a whole lot of people that had been sitting by themselves for a long time that I had never paid attention to. And then I got to know them.
And then I became a successful skier. And then I was invited back to the lunch table. But I didn’t really want to go back, not because I didn’t want to be with my friends, but because I was just in a whole new world. I saw people inside out, and when I saw people inside out, I saw the truth. So, that was the beginning, I would say, of totally changing early on in life.
KELLY: So, one of the biggest blessings that happened to you was that you got rejected by your friends in high school. That allowed you to see other people in a way that you’d never seen before. Did you come to faith early or did that happen through this process as well?
KENNY: It happened through the process. Y’all have given me an award, and I appreciate it very much, and everything you’re saying. But everything that’s happened, everything that’s here, everything we’ve done, the five or more million necklaces we’ve made…the military, the astronauts, everyone that’s worn them, it’s all because of Tammi. A girl who I met when I was 18. Tammi Rockford, who’s been Tammi Vaughan, for the last 25 years.
I was afraid as a skier, but I wasn’t afraid of being hurt. I’ve done two-month stints in the hospital, had a dozen or more surgeries. I was afraid of failing. There were no coaches that could help me overcome that, not the U. S. team coach. No one could help me overcome the fear of failing. Tammi started writing scriptures on my equipment. I didn’t tell her I was afraid; she figured it out. She started writing scriptures on my equipment, and then she started teaching me what love was and how to love. And God’s work and love drives out fear.
The difference she made in my life helped my dream come true of winning the U.S. nationals in the worst circumstances I had ever been in. I wanted a daily reminder that I could carry around. I couldn’t carry my gear around, so I bought a dog tag and engraved scripture on it. And we didn’t set out to do any of this. It’s the most humbling experience of my life bar none. But we’ve seen the testimonies and difference God’s word makes, and God’s word made an amazing difference in our lives. So, it wasn’t a plan, but if it had been one, it would have been a good one.
KELLY: Let’s go back a second. You’ve said before that because your dad was a water skier, that’s eventually what led you to being in the national championships of water ski jumping. That’s got to be not only frightening but dangerous. And your girlfriend at the time tells you to do this scripture. How were you feeling? What was it that you were experiencing there, and how did that change because of what your girlfriend told you?
KENNY: Ski jumping is dangerous by nature. By the way, if you ride that rollercoaster, the first thing you do when you come out is roll over. When you do that in ski jumping, the first thing you think is, “My god this is going to hurt.” You’re going to land upside down. Hopefully, you’re not going to the hospital. Like I said, I had a lot of injuries. But the fear of failure developed not because I got hurt, but because I got hurt several times in a row just before I had the chance for my dream to come true.
I’ve trained for years, and now I’m going to the nationals. I’m training for nationals, and I crash. I end up in the hospital for two months, and I miss the nationals. Takes me three years to fully recover to get back up, catch back up to my sport. Same thing happens again when I finally catch back up. I crash, and I’m knocked out and unconscious for a while. It takes me months to recover from that. When you almost get there so many times, and then all the wheels come off, fear has a chance to take root in your heart. It doesn’t have to, but it has a chance.
I didn’t know any better, so I fought fear. Fighting fear is a trap, by the way. The harder you fight it, the worse it gets. You have to run to love, and you have to run to truth. Whatever you give your attention to when you’re fighting something, you give your full undivided attention to it, and that’s what grows. That’s what I was doing. I was fighting fear, and I felt like nothing could defeat me. No matter what, I could win. But fear finally won.
I hadn’t been skiing for five years when I met Tammi. I had given up on my dream. I took her skiing just to show off. My coach had been wanting me to come back, so I came back five years later. I thought that I wouldn’t be afraid anymore, but I was. And she figured it out. So, she wrote those scriptures on my equipment. I would say that it was encouraging. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I love that. I would say that I loved the Lord, but I didn’t know Him. “For God hasn’t given me the spirit of fear but of love and a sound mind.”
So, first I knew them, but they didn’t make any difference. Then, I believed them, but they didn’t make any difference. Maybe they were a little encouraging, but whenever it was go time and it was my turn at the nationals, I was still terrified. Finally, I had to learn to act on God’s word despite my fear.
We get three jumps in the competition. The furthest jump wins. A guy jumped further than I had in my entire life. My first jump, I jump a foot shorter. The second jump I crashed, and I damaged my equipment. We get three minutes for repairs or to forfeit. I’ve got a busted boot and a broken fin. I’m able to repair a portion of it, but I can’t repair my boot. I don’t tell them because they would have forfeited me. I’m coming back from my last jump with a busted boot and the one thing I know more than anything else is that there’s no way I can jump further than I’ve jumped in my life with a busted boot. But I see this scripture: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And this is what I said before I skied, “Never mind the gold medal. Lord, I just want to do the best I can for You.”
When I said that, I realized I’d do more for Him than I would for my dream. I felt that if I finished for Him than I couldn’t fail, whether I won or not. If you play to win, by the way, you’re going to be led by fear. If you want to understand that, read that book sitting by your table. Read that book anyway. If this is the last thing that I ever told you, if I were going to die in 60 seconds, I would tell you to read the book; just read the book. I’m telling you, this is the most important truth I’ve ever learned in my life. So, where was I at?
KELLY: You were at the last jump.
KENNY: Something more important came up.
KELLY: You’ve got a busted boot.
KENNY: Yeah. So, I couldn’t fix it. But I had said never mind to the gold medal. I just want to do the best I can for You. I felt like I can finish for God win or not. Never mind winning. There’s something more important than that. When I made that decision, in a time when I’d have been more afraid than I’d ever been in my life, I finally had power, love, and a sound mind. I was able to use all the training I’d had in my whole life, and I jumped 11 feet further than I ever had in my whole life. I won nationals. My dream came true!
KELLY: I can do all things through Him who gives me strength, right?
KENNY: That’s right.
KELLY: That was the proof. He wanted you to have a busted boot so He could show you that it wasn’t really you. Now, this girlfriend…that’s probably a pretty good girl to marry if she’s that helpful. So, how long did it take you to figure that out?
KENNY: Too long. Well, not long after that. We had dated a few years leading up to that.
KELLY: So, you learn this lesson of the scripture, but how did it get into the military? What happened to lead to that, and did the way it took off surprise you?
KENNY: Yeah, that floored me. We made them. I wore them for myself, gave a couple away. I would see those people months later. Specifically, I remember a lady who waited on us at a restaurant. And I saw her months later dressed nice at some function. She had a very nice dress on, but I could see the ball chain around her neck. It was under her shirt. And I just thought, “Wow!” She wasn’t wearing it for the jewelry; she was wearing it for the scripture. I thought that maybe God’s word could do for others what it did for me if somebody has the reminder. I started giving more away, and they were expensive to make one at a time. So, we made more.
KELLY: Did it start because you had an idea to make these to give away, or did it start because you made these for you, and people saw them?
KENNY: The first one that I made, it was a few months after winning the nationals, and I had a life trial. I thought, I need God’s word, and I need a reminder because it’s a daily battle. Constantly, all day long, you have an opportunity. Fear comes. Am I going to follow fear, or am I going to choose to love? Fear is always doing what is best for itself without regard for others, and it makes irrational, foolish decisions. That’s the whole purpose of fear, but love is sound-minded. So, fear is me without regard for you; love is you without regard for me.
I was trying to figure it out. I needed that daily reminder. I didn’t have it. I couldn’t carry my equipment around with me, so I went to the local G.I. Surplus down the street, bought a blank dog tag. It was just for me, for me only. I wore it under my shirt. And I saw somebody, and I thought, “Man, I’ve been there.” So, I gave it to him and went and made myself another one. That’s how the first ones got started. From there, Tammi’s mom had a gift shop. We had to make a whole bunch of them to get them for less money. So, we put some in the gift shop, and they did well in the gift shop. They spread to just a couple of gift shops, and one of them was in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
After 9/11, the 86 Signal Battalion deployed out of Fort Huachuca to Afghanistan or Uzbekistan. The commander, the colonel, saw that one of his soldiers had one of the dog tags he had bought at the gift shop. He had 600 soldiers going, so they contacted us and said, “Hey, is there any way we could get a discount on 600 for our soldiers?” And I’m just like: Who? “So and so is on the phone.” I’m like: What? Are you kidding me?
We gave them to them. I couldn’t believe the military was calling us. Like everyone else at that time, we were dying to do something. What can we do to help our nation? It was an incredible opportunity that we took. When those guys carried them over and other soldiers saw them, we started getting more and more requests. Until we were getting calls from the battlefield from chaplains asking for as many as 30,000 of them at a time. Most of chaplains—by the way, you wouldn’t think this—but they don’t have much funding. They’ll call you and say, “Hey how many can I get for $500?”
“How many soldiers are you serving? How many marines are you serving?”
“Well, that’s how many you can get.”
KELLY: So, then you had Rippetoe die. Did you know that the president was going to stand at the podium and mention Shields of Strength? I mean, how did that hit you?
KENNY: I had heard about Rippetoe. My father-in-law saw it in the newspaper, and he called me and said, “Kenny there’s a soldier that was killed in Iraq.” And I know this is naïve, but we were praying nobody would die wearing one. When my father-in-law called me, I thought, “Anyone can put that scripture on that dog tag.” I’m thinking, “That’s probably not it.”
Y’all may remember Russell’s incident. It made national news. He was guarding a checkpoint. He was Army Ranger, 3rd Ranger Battalion. An SUV pulled up with a lady who was pregnant, and she hollered for help. They went to help her, but it was a trap. They detonated a bomb that killed him and a couple of other soldiers. Russell’s dad called me a couple of days later, and that’s when I realized. He had met with the president, and lot of people had reached out to him. He wanted to give all the soldiers in the ranger battalion the same dog tags.
I was sitting at home watching the news when President Bush spoke. He talked about Russell, and then he read the scripture. And it hit me that it was a Shield of Strength that he was wearing. I was still thinking, “Maybe not.” But when Russell’s dad called, then it all came together. I don’t know how to describe it. It was just overwhelming, and it broke my heart. But Russell’s dad was very encouraging. He helped us a lot. After that, the Associated Pressed picked that up. Fox News picked that up. Some other people picked that up. And it just took off. I think we had 2,000 emails and orders that night. That’s when it went from just this little bitty…we had probably done just a few hundred thousand dog tags at that point for the military. Now, a few million.
KELLY: I just think about the iteration of what you just described. You start with a kid being shunned in high school that sees the other people. That leads him when he gets a dog tag and sees someone else who is suffering to take his own dog tag off and give it to him, which causes people to see that and say, “I want them.” I mean, God just led that every step of the way and began to grow it until now you have millions. But then all of a sudden you get a curve ball. How did you find out about all of the sudden…not the complaint by Mikey Weinstein. He complains about everything. Anything that’s religious anywhere, he wants to shut it down. But how did you find out that the military was going to actually begin to stop you from providing these for people in the military?
KENNY: We saw it coming for a while, unfortunately. When all this first unfolded, and then Russell, and then President Bush reading that dog tag in his speech to the nation—which, by the way, Russell was the first solider buried in Arlington National Cemetery who was killed in Iraq, and it was right before Memorial Day. Then, not long after that, I got an invitation to speak at the Pentagon. So, I went and spoke there, and I was getting invitations to speak to different military units. And I was accepting all of them, but when we went to speak there, we were highly embraced. It was just crazy. You’re trying to love the military, and they’re just loving you back. You’re like, I’m trying to give back to you. It was wonderful; it was amazing. So, military licensing approached us, the exchanges approached us and said, “Hey, would you be willing to put these in the exchanges?”
They were our friends. I know most of them on a first name basis, but not long after Bush was out, our little chairs at the lunch table were taken. I was invited to the lunch table; now, everyone’s distancing themselves from me. I saw it. I knew what it was. I didn’t know why, but I knew it was something related to fear. Everybody, by the way, who holds a chair at the lunch table and won’t let you sit in it is afraid. They’re acting on the fear that they feel. I knew that they were afraid that there was something about me that could get them in trouble. So, I saw it coming. And I started keeping all my emails. I started keeping everything. There’re so many things they told me…in other words, the people that I’m talking to still love what we do, but…
KELLY: They’re getting orders from someone else.
KENNY: That’s right. Basically, what they were saying was keep going, but we can’t go with you anymore. They were saying keep going until you get shot down. And I said, “Okay, I’ll go. We’ll go, and I don’t care if we get shot down.” I knew the time was coming when what we did (even though they told us to keep going) was going to come back to haunt us, and it may sink our ship. But we’re going to keep going, and so we did. Then, when Weinstein complained, everybody turned their back. We got cease and desist letters from every branch. Then I called them, and they won’t talk to me, they won’t return my emails. But that’s okay, you know? I mean, it’s not okay, what they’re doing, but it’s okay for me. We’re going. By the way, that was the end of the road for us, just so you know, because we don’t have the resources to fight the Pentagon. For me, it was devastating until Mike called. I had never heard of you guys. Sorry, but I hadn’t.
KELLY: You didn’t know that Mike Berry was a military lawyer and had argued more cases at the high court in the military than any attorney alive, and he was doing military cases. Did he call you, or did you call him?
KENNY: He emailed me. Actually, he emailed me once, and I ignored the email.
KENNY: I’ve seen so much over the years. I thought this guy was probably working for the Pentagon. But then he emailed me again. Then, I got an email from a third party. He said, “Hey, you ought to think about reaching out to Mike Berry.” And I’m like, oh, that’s the guy who’s been emailing me. And I think I called Mike.
KELLY: What’s your state right now? What is your thought about where you are in the middle of this? How important is this to you? How do you feel? How do you see the future? I mean, we’re still in the middle of the battle right now. In the meantime, people are not getting your dog tags.
KENNY: I’m going to tell you, that’s the most shocking…we had a network of chaplains that we worked with. I love the chaplains; don’t get me wrong. But at some point, during this process, someone sent out a scary letter to all the chaplains, the chaplains that we had been working with for a decade—and they loved what we did—would say, “Hey, we don’t even want a dog tag with a scripture on it,” because it was going to land them in hot water.
Everything we had built over the years has pretty much been…because the chaplains are afraid. There’s a few of them who are like: You know what, we’re going to do this anyway. But I feel for them. They’re going to get shot down. Or they have to run it through legal, and it gets shot down every time. So now, everything we can find, we’re shipping to them. We’re just filling everything that we can. As far as how are we feeling, what we are going to do, we’re going to keep going. If worst case scenario, we can’t win…we’re not playing to win. We’re playing for them.
By the way, I’m not fighting the military, I’m fighting for the military. Right? And what an honor. What an honor to get to fight for our military. So, when hurt comes, there’s an opportunity for love to begin to die. Or an opportunity for love to grow. Maybe one of the only opportunities for love to grow is when hurt shows up. And it’s our decision. What are we going to do? So, we’re going to keep loving; we’re going to keep going. And, hopefully, we’re going to win this thing.
KELLY: Amen. Yeah, we plan to win this thing. I can’t think of anyone better that we’d give the award to. I just want to thank you for what you’ve done for freedom and liberty before this and that you’re not going to give up until we’ve got a victory for those who serve us in all the branches of the military. So, thank you for who you are and your stance and what you’ve done for our country. God bless you.