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Hail To The Chief – Thoughts for Veterans Day

Starting as Armistice Day, celebrated for the first time November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918 is what we now call Veterans Day. It is the observance of thanks to those who have served military duty. It acknowledges the living and the dead for honorably representing the country during peacetime and war.

This year, it is imperative that people understand that honor and the name Donald Trump cannot fit in the same sentence. His dishonor to the service and sacrifice of American service members in Syria and to our Kurdish allies is disgraceful.

This was the offense which was the last straw for Secretary of Defense General James Mattis: he resigned.

There is a long string of Trump disgrace.

The President offered no empathy to prisoner of war John McCain saying he liked it better when prisoners avoided capture.

Instead of reflecting on the trauma of those who were led to participate in the insanity and inhumanity in Vietnam and Cambodia, Mr. Trump said that avoiding STDs was his own personal Vietnam and he partied after his fake bone spur exemption.

He called Purple Heart recipient Lt. Col. Alexander Vinddman, the National Security Council's top Ukrainian expert, disloyal to him for speaking the truth.

Gold Star families, relatives of those who paid the ultimate price defending the U.S., have been disrespected by Mr. Trump again and again.

I know that one can be anti-war, pro-peace, and honor veterans. These are not mutually exclusive beliefs or feelings, and they represent long thought, listening, and learning.

Twenty years ago I used to listen to unimaginable stories. A regular customer at the pizza place at which I worked told me I reminded him of a guy he shared a foxhole with.

I just listened.

He never recovered from Vietnam—he self-medicated with alcohol—and he just needed someone to listen. I’ve heard hundreds of stories from people deployed all over the planet: students, friends, and strangers. Empathy and compassion are the first step toward honoring those tortured souls.

The man-in-charge knows no empathy. Trump is a coward and a bully, and he is unlikely to change. He is a lost cause. What is left is to look to all those supporting, promoting, or enabling the President's reprehensible behavior and ask them to re-evaluate.

A deeper appreciation for honoring Veterans must emerge. Defending them against those who insult, defame, and betray their service only scratches the surface. We need to stop electing the kinds of representatives who use them as pawns serving political purposes.

No civil society should write blank checks for military force while leaving more than 40,000 veterans homeless and hundreds of thousands more to live with food insecurity and poverty. We must stop electing representatives who believe some veterans are disposable.

The deepest commitment is a patriotic commitment to the protection of the fundamental principles of our constitutional democracy. The fascist and authoritarian tendencies of this White House and those who cling to their loyalty to Donald Trump are the greatest dishonor to those who swore oaths to protect this country from enemies “foreign and domestic.” Veterans have not fought to remove dictators in other countries to see a President ignoring checks and balances while insisting that he is above the law in their home country.

On November 11th, President Donald Trump will celebrate Veterans Day.

Remember, this is the man who avoided a Republican debate in 2016 so that he could raise money through his foundation for veterans. Remember, he held onto millions of dollars raised for those veterans instead of sending it to where it was needed.

The Trump Foundation was no charity at all, its primary purpose, “little more than a [personal] checkbook […]to pay off the legal obligations of entities he controlled.”

Tomorrow, on Veterans Day, take a moment to honor those who have served America and a close look at President Donald Trump, Commander in Chief and make the comparison between the President and those who risk death for what they believe is defending our country.

Wim Laven teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association. He is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Graphic & layout by the Observer: Trump image by John Hain (Pixabay)

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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