William Steele: Measure of the man
The Atlantic magazine recently published an article written by its publisher, Jeffrey Goldberg, which recounts the many ways in which our president has expressed his contempt for the men and women who have served in the military and, for some strange reason, especially those who have given their lives in the service of our nation. He believes they are “suckers” and “losers.” The author speculates that Trump simply does not understand service and sacrifice — he believes all personal relationships are transactional — “How can this benefit me?” “How can I profit?”
Mr. Goldberg based this report on the accounts of four anonymous inside sources and hopefully these sources will someday publicly verify the accounts. Of course the president, on a daily basis, relates his version of events based on “They say” or “People are saying,” but as corroboration, we don’t have to rely on anonymous sources. There is plenty of public documentation of his contempt for heroes:
John McCain — it’s hard to imagine a more respected war hero than McCain who spent five years in a Vietnamese prison, most of it in solitary confinement, who was tortured and carried the scars for life. When the North Vietnamese discovered he was the son of an admiral, he was offered the chance to go home. An offer he refused because he did not want special treatment. In 2015 Trump said “He’s not a war hero. I like people who weren’t captured.”
On at least two occasions since becoming president, Trump has called former President George H.W. Bush a “loser” for being shot down by the Japanese as a navy pilot.
In 2016 Trump publicly attacked the family of Captain Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004.
Republicans and Democrats alike have always venerated those in the military, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. What kind of person would so vehemently and publicly dishonor them?
The president likes to compare himself to Abraham Lincoln. He recently sat for an interview in the Lincoln Memorial. He often claims “I have accomplished more in one term than any president in history with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” Let us make our own comparison.
President Lincoln gave a very short speech 163 years ago at the dedication of a national cemetery at Gettysburg, Penn. It is perhaps the most powerful speech in our national history. Here is an excerpt from that speech:
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
And, according to the Atlantic article, on Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery. With him was retired General John Kelly, whose son Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan and who is buried in that very ground. Trump, while standing at the grave, turned to the father of the fallen hero and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” This from a man who avoided going into military service by claiming he had “bone spurs.”
It takes a moment after reading those words to try to understand the total depravity of the man who said them — only a man who has no comprehension of the words that have meant so much throughout our history. Words like, sacrifice, duty, honor.
William Steele lives in Nevada City.
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