My father is a WWII U.S. Army veteran. While he is proud to have served his country, he doesn’t like to talk about his horrific experiences in the Pacific Theater. My late father-in-law was a WWII U.S. Navy vet. He, too, was somewhat reticent about his active duty. My great great grandfather, despite being 47 years of age and stricken with rheumatoid arthritis, joined the infantry during the U.S. Civil War. My grandmother’s brother, a 25 year old Private in the infantry, died at Normandy in 1944, and is buried in St. Laurent, France.
Think about that for a minute. Each of these men, moved by a sense of duty and love of country, enlisted in the armed forces. They didn’t wait for Uncle Sam to press them into service; they went willingly. Each left behind family, friends, and the comforts of home to defend liberty and human rights. My dad slept in foxholes, washed his clothes in the river in New Guinea, ate spam and beans, and patrolled the jungle. Believe me, these were the least of his trials. He, and all service men and woman, suffered for this country and deserve our utmost gratitude and respect, as do their families. I often think of my great grandmother, Alice, who sent her son off to war and never saw him again. His grave in France is marked by a simple white cross, hardly adequate commemoration of the young man’s unfathomable sacrifice.
This Veterans Day marked 100 years since the end of “the war to end all wars.” President Trump, along with other world leaders, traveled to France to commemorate the occasion. The President was scheduled to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American cemetery in Belleau, where 1,800 American troops lost their lives. He did not fulfill his commitment, allegedly due to inclement weather, nor did he visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. Our troops, past and present, daily endure so much, but our “Make America Great Again” President could not tolerate rain or inconvenience himself to pay his respects to the very people to whom he owes his liberty.
As an American citizen, I find our President’s disregard for Veterans Day, 2018 disgraceful. As a daughter of a veteran, I am highly offended. The President of the United States of America has insulted and degraded my father, my father-in-law, and all the military in my family - in this country. Donald Trump has, in effect, done exactly what he dramatically condemns. He has “taken a knee” and disrespected his country, the American flag, and the values it represents.
With all due respect, Mr. President, American patriots do not merely hug the American flag when cameras are present. They do not stamp platitudes on red hats and preach nationalism. American patriots actively defend their flag, respect their history, and honor their war heroes, living and dead. What you have done this Veterans Day, sir, or more accurately, what you have failed to do, is unforgivable and quite telling.
A postscript to Trump supporters: If you are a member of the military, past or present, and you are not disturbed by our President’s disregard for your service and that of your peers, you need to rethink the situation. All Trump supporters do. This is not a Democrat versus Republican issue. It is not anti-Trump propaganda. This is about respect, plain and simple. Respect for you and for this country, or the obvious lack thereof.