Trolls, Scammers, and Verified Facebook Pages Made This Combat-Wounded Vet an Anti-Kneeling Meme. His Real Story Is Much Better.

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Earl Granville remembers someone from Outside Magazine taking the picture after he’d finished a 60-hour, 70-plus mile Spartan Race. There’s Earl, his prosthetic leg in frame, decked in a black-and-white shirt that reads “Agoge.”

That’s the name of the grueling, two-and-a-half-day endurance test he’d just finished. It’s a race so rigorous, even for those without a prosthesis to worry about, that “Every man dies, but not every man lives” is its tagline.

Granville lived, and he’s been in the news plenty since that race. This past April, he made national headlines when he slung his race guide, Andi Piscopo, over his shoulder and carried her across the finish line of the Boston Marathon. ABC News even wrote it up: “Veteran Who Lost Leg in Afghanistan Carries Friend Across Boston Marathon Finish Line.”

But this past month, Granville started getting messages from friends and fans on Facebook about that year-old Agoge picture. Somebody with an explosive political opinion was clearly making a bunch of money using Earl’s face to hawk some shirts, and they weren’t sure he was in on it.

“They screenshotted and sent it to me in a Facebook post,” said Granville. “They saw someone selling that shirt.”

Someone had scraped off the Agoge logo from the front of his shirt with Photoshop. Granville’s face and pose and prosthetic leg remain, but now the shirt reads, “I don’t kneel,” below an American flag.

Granville doesn’t know who did it, but he’s doing whatever he can to get it taken down.

“If somebody asked for my permission, I would’ve said no. But I didn’t hear anything from any of them,” said Granville.

That image was used to sell T-shirts all across the web. One page created an entire web store around it called “ineel” that’s since been taken down. The associated Facebook page, which was called “Veteran Talk” and is now known as “Veteran’s Pride” to its nearly 25,000 subscribers, is still live.

“There’s one page in particular [Veteran’s Pride] where I reached out to them. I can see they read the message. Since then, I’ve been blocked,” Granville said.

Veteran’s Pride did not respond to a request for comment. An identical shirt to the one sold by “ineel’s” online store was shown off on conservative commentator Tomi Lahren’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, attached to a post about how National Football League players should “salute the flag to honor those who fought, died, and sacrificed.”

Etsy stores using Granville’s Photoshopped image and Lahren’s words remain live on Etsy, selling the same shirt.


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