By Perry Diaz
On September 3, 2020, 60 days before the presidential election, Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, wrote an op-ed that exposed President Donald Trump’s treatment of American military personnel who perished in war in the worst way – calling them “losers” and ”suckers.”
In 2018, Trump cancelled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris because he blamed rain, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.
The truth was that he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the incident. Trump told senior staff members, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood – the ground on which it was fought that is venerated by the Marine Corps — as “suckers” for getting killed.
What kind of a man is Trump? Doesn’t he know that American soldiers fought in France during World War I to stop Germany from conquering Europe? Doesn’t he know that the British, French, Russians, Italy, and Japan fought alongside the Americans against the Germans?
Trump doesn’t seem to know the historical background of World War I. America lost 53,402 men in combat and another 63,114 to the influenza epidemic of 1918. By Trump’s definition, the 116,516 Americans who died during World War I are “losers” and ”suckers,” not heroes.
Insults war heroes
Among the losers that Trump called was the late Sen. John McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war of the North Vietnamese. “He’s not a war hero,” Trump said in 2015 while running for the Republican nomination for president. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
When McCain died in August 2018, Trump told his senior staff, according to three sources with direct knowledge of this event, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” and he became furious, according to witnesses, when he saw flags lowered to half-staff. “What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser,” the president told aides.
Trump also criticized former president George HW Bush as a “loser” for being shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II, which begs the question: Why did Trump call Bush a “loser”? It’s wartime and soldiers and pilots risked their lives for their country. They ought to be treated as heroes and patriots. But for some reason Trump doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t believe in service, particularly where his life is in danger.
It’s no wonder then that he requested for deferment five times from the draft during the Vietnam War. Four for medical deferments and one because of alleged presence of bone spurs in his feet.
For some reason, Trump is averse to military service. According to Trump’s niece, Mary L. Trump, in her book “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” Trump has a disdain for military service. Mary said that her uncle threatened to disown Don Jr. if he joined the military.
His abhorrence of the military is exemplified in his relationships with his staff like retired four-star John Kelly whom he appointed White House Chief of Staff. A story goes that on Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery accompanied by Kelly. They visited Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars where Kelly’s son Robert is buried. Robert, 29, who was a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan.
Trump was supposed to join Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave. But according to sources with knowledge of the visit, Trump told Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” It must have taken Kelly aback.
Another four-star general who was a friend of Kelly commented of the incident. “Trump can’t imagine anyone else’s pain. That’s why he would say this to the father of a fallen marine on Memorial Day in the cemetery where he’s buried.”
I think it’s Trump’s strange psyche that drives him. He’s a psychotic. He doesn’t have any sensitivity about other people’s emotions. To him what matters is all about himself. He doesn’t see any value in serving in the military. He uses people and once he’s done with them, he’d throw them under the bus. It has happened a lot. Look at where they are right now? They’re too many to name but we all know who they are – patriotic Americans who disagreed with Trump’s transactional presidency and incompetent handling of the pandemic and divisive policies on racial justice.
Trump’s disparaging remarks about those who perished in war could change the outlook of 18.2 million U.S. veterans on the forthcoming presidential election. Had they died during the war, they too would have been branded as “losers” and “suckers” by Trump. They’re lucky they survived the war and escaped the ultimate insult by Trump.
By Trump’s declaration, the 1,354,664 Americans who died from 1775 to 2020 fighting for their country — from the time of the Revolutionary Army to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — are now deemed “losers” and “suckers.” And for the 624 Americans who were awarded posthumously the Medal of Honor, I must say that it’s sad that President Trump has branded them as “losers” and ”suckers” but they’ll always be heroes who gallantly gave their lives so Americans – including the draft dodgers — can live in freedom.
And to those who are serving in the U.S. armed forces who currently numbers 1,347,106 active duty personnel and 807,562 reserves, the derogatory comments of Trump against those who gave their lives for freedom smacks of an attitude that speaks lowly of those most loyal to the flag of the U.S.
Large voting bloc
The 2.1 million Americans who proudly wear the uniform of the U.S. military happen to be one large voting bloc. And to be denigrated by their commander-in-chief, these patriotic Americans will not take the insults thrown at their dead comrades-in-arms who made the ultimate sacrifice of dying in battle to defend their country. They and their brothers, sisters, parents, children, and relatives will avenge them at the upcoming election on November 3. They will restore their honor with a vote against Trump. That’s the only way to rectify the insult that Trump had thrown at their dead comrades.
On a persona l note, when America declared war against Japan in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called upon the Filipinos to join American forces fighting in the Philippines to defend the U.S. More than 260,000 Filipinos volunteered. The United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) was formed under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The Filipinos alongside their American comrades fought gallantly in the Battle of Bataan until April 9, 1942 when the under-armed forces surrendered to the Japanese forces. Thus began the Bataan Death March where 60,000-80,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war marched for 70 miles to Camp O’Donnell. From 5,000 to 18,000 Filipinos and 500 to 650 Americans died during the march. One of those who died in the march was my uncle.
On October 25, 2017, the Filipino veterans of World War II were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. It was long overdue but still apt for the occasion.
Which makes one wonder what would Trump have said to these heroes – “Losers” and “suckers” for fighting America’s war?