Today is Memorial Day, the day in which we remember and honor those US service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to country. It is one of the most, if not the most, meaningful of the American holidays.
As expected, Trump made a visit to Arlington National Cemetery to recognize Memorial day, his first as president. Eli Watkins of CNN writes, “President Donald Trump honored the US service members who made the ultimate sacrifice by visiting Arlington National Cemetery in recognition of Memorial Day Monday morning,” but I feel Watkins was perhaps a bit too generous with his words. In my opinion, Trump did no such thing as “honor” our service members. In fact, in light of Trump’s history of disparaging and belittling our military, Trump’s very presence at Arlington, to me, is cheap theater.
Let us on this day also remember all the ways our “president” has insulted our service members:
- While in college, Trump received four student deferments from the draft, avoiding service in Vietnam. After he was briefly deemed medically fit for service, he then received a medical deferment claiming “heel spurs,” which don’t seemed to prevent him from walking around on the golf course, by the way.
- Trump had the audacity to say of Senator John McCain, a former Navy pilot and POW: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” He never apologized.
- Trump made the ultimate display of disrespect by attacking the family of a fallen American soldier. Army Captain Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan
made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation when on June 8, 2004 CPT Khan was killed by an IED-packed vehicle. He was 27 years old. Again, Donald Trump has never apologized. He even had the temerity to compare his own so-called “sacrifices” to CPT Khan’s sacrifice.
- Trump disrespected the military Purple Heart award by accepting one as a gift, despite never having earned it. “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier,” he said.
- Trump compared his escapades of sleeping around with loose women to the Vietnam War: “It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”
- Trump thinks that by attending a New York military-style prep school he had “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military,” which is, of course, bullshit.
- And, finally (but probably not finally), Trump rips off vets. To quote at length the New York Daily News:
Trump has put his money where his mouth is when it comes to show how much he respects vets.
Which is to say: Very little.
In lieu of any service on his own, Trump has sometimes bought his way into veteran affairs by making donations that earned him a spot in, say, a parade or a memorial service.
But there’s little evidence Trump has handed over the war chest of donations he has claimed.
Trump spent the first few months of 2016 claiming he sent nearly $6 million to veterans groups nationwide, but Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold couldn’t find any evidence of any donations.
After Fahrenthold asked and asked about the money, Trump held a news conference in May assuring he had sent out his donations.
It turned out he sent most of them within a week of the press conference or, in some cases, on the same day Fahrenthold interviewed him about the mystery money.
One of his biggest donations, of $1 million, went to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a foundation that gave Trump an award the year before.
Trump promised in the campaign that he would “take care” of America’s veterans, which, so far, has proven to be about as half-true as his donations were.
His proposed federal budget gives the Department of Veteran Affairs an extra $4.3 billion, but it also cuts back on the cost-of-living adjustments for veteran benefit payouts, and it slashes funds for the Limb Loss Resource Center and Paralysis Resource Center, two organizations that help the VA with veterans suffering those ailments.
Trump’s history of insulting the men and women of our armed services make his words this Memorial Day seem very cheap indeed. Donald Trump, who has lived nearly his entire life in a self-centered bubble, has repeatedly disparaged, exploited and pissed on those very people who have sacrificed for his freedoms and the freedoms of all Americans. Memorial Day is something he could never understand. Being president doesn’t change that.