The Nation’s top army official, General Mark Milley, says he was wrong to join the President on his walk to St. John’s Church. 

Today, Army General Mark Milley, a U.S. top military officer said he was wrong to accompany the President on his walk to St. John’s church during a National Defense University commencement speech. 

 The church walk was an impromptu event that sparked controversy since many peaceful protesters in D.C. were ordered by authorities who used pepper spray, flashbangs, and rubber bullets to move out of the streets. Critics deemed the church visit a photo opportunity where the President posed with a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“I should not have been there,” Milley said. He went on to say, “my presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” This comes after Donald Trump said he would invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy the U.S. military in order to manage civil disobedience if state or city officials did not take action in response to ongoing protests across the nation. Milley’s commencement address was delivered to military officers and civilian officials as advice from an experienced Army officer. 

Gen. Milley’s vision of the military was clear when he stated, “we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic.” During the commencement address, he also acknowledged the George Floyd murder as “the long shadow of our original sin in Jamestown 401 years ago,” in reference to the initial enslavement of Africans in the United States as they arrived in North America. 

Milley was conscious of the work that still needs to happen in the military with regard to race. While there was progress on race issues, Gen. Milley believes there is much more to be done. The Army specifically has only one Black four-star general while the Air Force recently announced they will swear in Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as their chief of staff who will be the first Black individual to lead a U.S. military service.