Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks during an event in Gettysburg to formally announce a run for governor on Jan. 8, 2022. (Screenshot)
Dozens of veterans, including five Pennsylvania elected officials, have signed a letter calling out Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano for wearing a Confederate Army uniform in a faculty photograph at the U.S. Army War College.
Calling Mastriano’s decision to wear the uniform of the 11 Confederate states that fought to keep Black people enslaved shameful, the veterans, who include U.S. Rep. Connor Lamb, D-Pa., and former Bucks County Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, said they were deeply disturbed.
“He did not wear this uniform for a reenactment. He wore it for a photograph when his fellow faculty were wearing their duty uniforms. His decision to wear that uniform is an insult to those of us who served and those who continue to serve on behalf of the United States of America,” the letter reads .
After Reuters reported the photo’s existence last month, the Army War College, based in Carlisle, Cumberland County, said it had been missed in a review of art and other images after the U.S. Army issued a ban on displaying the Confederate flag and other secessionist symbols.
The college removed the photo, taken during the 2013-14 term, because it did not conform with the institution’s values.
The veterans noted that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians fought in the Civil War to end slavery, and tens of thousands gave their lives.
“As veterans, we served to protect our country and the ideals America was built on, freedom and democracy. The very rights and freedoms Doug Mastriano is hellbent on stripping away. We believe Doug Mastriano does not embody the values of the United States armed services,” the letter said.
Mastriano retired from the Army in 2017 after a 30-year career as an intelligence officer that ended with a stint as a professor at the War College.
In an interview with One America News, Mastriano spoke about his role as a history professor and deflected to his Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro, criticizing his record as attorney general and saying that Shapiro has nothing else to run on.
“I think it’s important to understand the past to have a better future and also to not repeat the mistakes of the past,” Mastriano said.
A state senator from Franklin County, Mastriano has campaigned on promises to ban abortion with no exceptions, curtail transgender rights and cut public school funding. This summer, was widely criticized for using Gab.com, an alt-right social media platform that has been decried for tolerating hate speech.
Mastriano has also been identified as a key player in the scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election results by submitting a slate of alternate electors to Congress.
“As proud U.S. military veterans, it is clear who Doug Mastriano is fighting for and the threat he poses to Pennsylvanians,” the letter says. “We lay our lives on the line to defend democracy and Doug Mastriano is actively trying to destroy it. His dangerous ideals have no place in an organization that requires unity of purpose and action and no place in Pennsylvania.”
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