MSNBC host Chris Hayes apologized Monday for saying he felt uncomfortable calling fallen soldiers "heroes" because the term can be used to justify potentially unjust wars.
Hayes' comments during a panel discussion Sunday on his show "Up With Chris Hayes" sparked a furor among veterans and conservative bloggers, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars demanding an apology the next day.
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"Chris Hayes' recent remarks on MSNBC regarding our fallen service members are reprehensible and disgusting," VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer said in a statement to Fox News. "His words reflect his obvious disregard for the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have paid the ultimate price while defending our nation."
Hayes spent a large portion of his Memorial Day-themed show on questions of war and of the people killed on all sides of military conflicts, from American soldiers to Afghan civilians, according to The Huffington Post.
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After speaking with a former Marine whose job it was to notify the families of dead soldiers, Hayes said it was "very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words 'heroes.'"
"I feel ... uncomfortable about the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war," he explained.
Kurt Schlichter at Breitbart blasted Hayes for his comment, writing, “Memo to Chris: they are heroes, and you don’t get a vote.”
On Monday, Hayes said he was "deeply sorry" for his comments and not living up to "the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I've set for myself."