A citizen is “concerned” with my father’s right to free speech


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.

Dad.Sturgis.Controversial.NRA.shirtMy 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.

My father isn’t a politician. In 1971, on his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After that, he went to the coal mines, working over 20 years underground. Then and now, he serves as the recording secretary for United Mine Workers of America’s Local 1820 – but he’s no politician.

But, as of a few months ago, he is an Elected Official in the St Clair Township. In 2012, he entered his first-ever campaign, joining the Common Sense Team as a candidate for St Clair Township Trustee. He won, though most of his team didn’t, though their platform of reduced spending and increased accountability was popular with voters.If you’re still with me, hang on, because here’s where it gets interesting:My father attended his inaugural St Clair Township board meeting in late June 2013. On July 3, I received an interesting email from my dad. (Subject Line: You’ll Get A Kick Out Of This One.)

“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 America?

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.

Dad.OliverNorth.KBRThere’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.