First, a little context: I grew up in southwestern Illinois, in St Clair Township, where my parents still live on 10 rural-ish acres. Pictured here, my parents and sisters and I are in front of the homestead atop the stump of a giant Oak tree, which was felled in a severe storm fell shortly before my dad’s 60th birthday in November 2012.
My father, Keith Sturgis, is a family man, a proud USMC Veteran, and a patriot, who worked hard to instill a fierce appreciation for our country and its freedoms in his three daughters – and anyone else who would listen.
“The St Clair Township Supervisor just called to say a person was concerned that I was wearing an NRA shirt to the Township Board Meeting.
… So I told him to have that person address me to my face, and we’ll see how that goes.”
In my lovely, borderline-po-dunk hometown in Illinois?
A citizen feels threatened by three letters on a garment worn by an unpaid township trustee.
Who happens to be my father.
And those three letters happen to mean more to my father – and to me – than they might to, say, your average resident of St Clair Township.
Dad had the audacity to wear the orange shirt that he’s pictured in above. This shirt is a discontinued style… I’m 95% certain I purchased it at one of the sales hosted at NRA HQ, where I worked as a Senior Media Specialist until 2010, but I can’t be sure.
Shortly after I was hired at the NRA, my father called to request that I send him a few business cards because, as it turns out, he wanted to hand them out to pretty much everyone he knew.
It’s the only time I can remember my father asking me for anything.
There’s another picture of my father wearing his offensive shirt: this one, which I posted on Facebook in May of 2008. I posted it in the middle of the chaotic festival of freedom known as the NRA’s Annual Meeting (in 2008, it was held in Louisville, KY) and I wrote the following caption: “three marines, three personal heroes: Dad, Lt Col Oliver North, KBR.”
My father took time off work to serve as an unpaid volunteer during the NRA Annual Meeting – in 2008, and in 2009, and in 2010 – and also at several CPACs. He worked a booth for 3 days talking to folks about the NRA’s flagship blog, NRAblog, which I happened to help create.
In Louisville, when I saw Lt Col Oliver North talking to past NRA President Kayne Robinson, I took the opportunity to locate my father and arrange the three Marines for this photo. And today, especially, I’m awfully grateful I did.
My father doesn’t question anyone’s right to free speech – but you’d damned well better not question his.