‘Surreal and shocking’: Kentucky Veteran’s Club president reacts to Capitol protests

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 3:15 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When violent riots overtook Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, Army veteran Jeremy Harrell was watching them unfold on TV.

“It was very surreal and shocking. As a combat veteran who went overseas to fight for our way of life and preservation of what we hold dear, it was very troubling to watch,” he told our sister station WAVE 3 News. “It was just sort of a slap in the face.”

Harrell, who served in Iraq, is now the leader of the Veteran’s Club based in Louisville.

Even after fighting in warzones abroad, Harrell said the riots at the Capitol were hard to process and difficult to explain to his children.

“I just couldn’t believe what I was watching, that’s something that you see on the news in Venezuela or other countries like that. That doesn’t happen in our own backyard,” he said. “But it should be a reality check for everybody living in this country that we have to do better, and we can’t just talk about it anymore, we have to get together and fix what’s broken.”

Harrell was disheartened to see the freedoms he fought for abused and disappointed by the servicemembers who participated in the riots.

“As a veteran, we don’t behave that way, we have a different set of standards we must uphold, our oath never expires,” he said.

Harrell pushed back again the idea that all veterans have the same political leanings.

He also said people should not judge one another as the nation attempts to heal.

“We must have open dialogue if we want to get to a sense of peace and sense of a functioning society again and I right now I don’t believe we are,” he said.

Harrell said he was inspired by the National Guard members activated in Washington, D.C. and Frankfort in the days leading up to the inauguration. He said he hopes those deployed to provide security will not have to engage with their fellow citizens in future riots.

“We don’t train to defend ourselves against our own people, it’s quite a mind-altering thought. So. I’ve just been praying for those folks.”

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