The commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command said Monday that he meant no disrespect by his recent tweet about the helicopter crash Sunday that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other passengers.
Army Maj. Gen. John Evans touched off an angry backlash Monday by sending out the following tweet:
"Lots of people mourning a basketball player this morning. I think I'll use my energy to remember SPC Moore and his Family," he wrote, referring to the recent death of 22-year-old Army Spc. Antonio Moore in a Jan. 24 vehicle rollover accident in Syria.
The tweet angered many on Twitter, resulting in more than 100 responses that accused Evans of suggesting that a soldier's death is more important than a helicopter crash that killed nine civilians.
"I guess being an ex-NCO rather than a general officer, I am nuanced enough to grieve for SPC Moore and his family, who at 22 was way too young to leave this world, and Kobe Bryant's family, who lost a father/husband and daughter/sister," Twitter user @Pruit_Igoe wrote. "There were also 7 other people on that on that chopper including another teenage girl. To rank the death of someone over someone else because of some categorization is ghoulish and unbecoming of an officer."
Another user, @sassymoms62, tweeted that Evans should not make it a choice of mourning soldiers over civilians. "Sad you cannot do both, says a lot more about you. Really sad," she wrote.
Twitter user @miyridian had a similar response. "Competitive grief is not a thing," he tweeted. "This is an awful look for you, and reflects poorly on the institution you represent. Be better."
Another user, @WJCork, wrote: "Let people grieve. Don't slap people down because they grieve a basketball player Don't portray yourself as better for grieving a soldier. Set the right example."
Evans sent out another message in an attempt to clarify his original tweet.
"I think my detractors here made my case for me - no one life is any more important than another - regardless [of] the celebrity," the general posted. "Look forward to them Retweeting the story about SPC Moore to demonstrate their conviction."
Not every response to Evans' tweets had an angry tone.
User @CG_ArmyROTC tweeted that he agreed with Evans' posts about Moore's death. "He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. You are outstanding Sir. Thank you for your service and your leadership," Hall wrote.
User @ASUjoan tweeted that "no one life is more important than another."
"My sadness for the Kobe accident heightened when I learned children were involved. Loss of life is tragic," she continued. "I appreciate and honor the sacrifice those in the military make."
Evans later posted that he meant no disrespect by his original tweet.
"Allow me to Retweet my original Tweet in the SPIRIT for which it was intended," he wrote. "Lots of people mourning a basketball player this morning. I think I'll use my energy to ALSO remember SPC Moore and his Family. I meant no disrespect to the families of the nine who were lost."
Military.com contacted to Cadet Command and received the following statement:
"United States Army Cadet Command sends its thoughts of comfort and condolences to all the grieving families. As we mourn the losses of a basketball legend and of a soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving this great Nation," Lt. Col. Nichole Downs said in the statement, "We believe everybody's life has value and that all loss of life tragic. Since we tend to connect to celebrities more, we have a tendency to forget about others who are just as important. There was no disrespect meant towards the families of the nine that were lost."
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.