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Fecteau: Disrespecting Our Fallen Heroes

Sunday, October 22, 2017


President Donald Trump has shown he is so callous and disgraceful that he will sink to any level. Nonetheless, even I thought the bar was already so low; no possible way it could go any lower – I was seriously wrong, so, so wrong.  Mr. Trump stuck his foot in his mouth yet again – in such a tragic way.

After taking heat for not calling the families of four recently deceased service members, Mr. Trump told a despicable half-truth involving the late son of his chief of staff and retired General John Kelly. In an awkwardly defensive way, Mr. Trump deflected criticism on this issue by saying President Barack Obama never called the Kelly family after their own son, Second Lt. Robert Kelly, was sadly killed overseas in 2010.

First off, this accusation is so disgustingly disingenuous it is heart-wrenching. President Obama never called the Kelly family (true); he met with them personally after their devastating loss. Secondly, Mr. Trump didn’t even have the common decency to refrain from politicizing such a delicate issue. Mr. Kelly barely mentioned the passing of his son in public for a reason: he didn’t want his death to become a political football. Of course, then walks in Mr. Trump with his latest comments – turning Mr. Kelly’s son’s death into a talking point.

I cannot believe Mr. Trump was so callous and heartless to mold the loss of a loved one into a cudgel to slam Mr. Obama’s legacy. After hearing Mr. Trump’s latest comment about Mr. Kelly’s son, I wanted to take a long, cold shower because it is disgusting. I would love to say this was the end of it – I cannot. Mr. Trump reportedly called the widow of another deceased service member and let her know “he knew what he signed up for.”

Let’s not forget when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump verbal attacked the Gold Star parents of another service member killed overseas, Captain Humayun Khan. During a defensive news interview, when referencing the issue, Mr. Trump had the nerve to say he made a lot of sacrifices too (maybe he received a papercut filing the paperwork for one of his five deferments from Vietnam?).   

Mr. Trump doesn’t seem to understand what it means to lose someone in war (or perhaps care). It is tough, and some of my peers made the ultimate sacrifice during the Iraq conflict. This delicate, sensitive issue required empathy for one another, but more importantly the families of our fallen. Mr. Trump has shown he is incapable of such feelings – it is all about him.

In a sad twisted way, Mr. Trump disrespects the legacy of our fallen troops and their families with such cruel disregard for their sacrifice. This is heartbreaking for our country, but more importantly, tragic for our men and women in uniform that deserve so much better.


Matt Fecteau (Matthew.Fecteau@gmail.com) is a Master of Public Administration candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and an Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau


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