Duty, honor lost on Trump
America’s armed forces impress certain core values upon their recruits. The Army’s, for example, are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
“In serving your country,” the Army explains, “you are doing your duty loyally without thought of recognition or gain.”
How can anyone not get that?
But there’s someone who doesn’t. It’s their commander in chief, President Donald Trump.
As reported by Atlantic magazine editor Jeffrey Goldberg recently and confirmed by other media, Trump has said that American men and women in uniform are “suckers” for serving in the military and that they are “losers” if they are killed or captured.
His inability to comprehend patriotic service was on display long before a 2017 visit to Arlington National Cemetery, as recounted in the Atlantic, where the president stood among heroes of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and remarked “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
As far back as 1999, according to the Washington Post, Trump was questioning the heroism of John McCain, a potential future rival for the presidency, because he had been captured in Vietnam. Even earlier, in television and radio interviews, he compared combat in Vietnam to the hazards of sexually transmitted diseases. Trump got a draft deferment with a diagnosis of bone spurs.
“If you’re young, and in this era, and if you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam, we have our own Vietnam. It’s called the dating game,” he said on one occasion.
Many Americans may want to believe Trump’s fervent denials of what the Atlantic disclosed, but the president is like the shepherd boy in Aesop’s fable who falsely cried “Wolf!” so often that the villagers did not believe him when it was true. Little of what he says can be taken as fact without independent corroboration.
Within hours, the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post and even the national security correspondent at Fox News corroborated essential elements from their own sources.
Forbes linked to a video of Trump himself, at a 2015 campaign event in Iowa, using the word “losers” in expanding on his disdain for warriors like McCain, who had been captured.
If the Atlantic’s allegations are true, Trump is unfit to be the person ultimately responsible for the lives of the 2.4 million American volunteers who serve on active duty and in the reserves.
The values of our military — duty and honor above all — are not his values.
* Guest editorial from the Sun Sentinel in Deerfield Beach, Fla.