Memorial Day and the Trump Effect- An Emptiness of Empathy.

America is celebrating its second Memorial Day underneath the reign of Donald Trump, and it’s worth reflecting on exactly what that means.

Memorial Day is a special day for America. It gives society a way to show gratitude to those who have carried upon their lives the burdens and responsibilities of war.

The Atlantic’s David Frum wrote today “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” is a promise not denominated only in dollars and cents. We commit spiritually, too, to do our limited human best to understand and appreciate the losses and suffering imposed by the defense of the nation.”

These kinds of subtleties are lost on our 45th president.

Trump spent his day boasting about the economy he’s been ravaging on Twitter. Later he made a speech and laid a wreath, but the speech he made was an abject lesson of insincerity, where he said all the usual things and made reference to “Our Heroes”.

Trump has never had a military hero. On the contrary. He has repeatedly used and politicized the military, not to mention badly disrespected it.

Our heroes- the heroes of the people of America- is a term that includes Sen. John McCain(R-AZ), who Trump has disdained for years. He even mocked the time McCain spent in a POW camp in Vietnam, saying he prefers “people who didn’t get captured”.

Just recently, some White House staffer sneered at his words, saying that his opinion doesn’t matter because he is dying. Trump said nothing. Not one kind word was spent on our hero John McCain.

The commander-in-chief of our military is a man who was never in Vietnam at all, win or lose. He was able to dodge the draft because of his “bone spurs”– and his daddy’s money. Poor people didn’t get out of going to Vietnam for bone spurs.

The instance of John McCain is not the only time he’s proved himself a hypocrite on the matter of his supposed admiration for veterans. Trump has had numerous back-and-forths with the military.

Trump has said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”

Trump has said US generals were “reduced to rubble” by Obama.
While campaigning in 2016, Trump spent nearly a week disparaging the Gold Star family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier killed in a suicide attack in Iraq, back in 2004.

He told Khan’s mother to remain silent, because, as a Muslim wife, she “wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

After he got elected, four Army soldiers were killed in Niger in an ambush in October 2017. Trump remained quiet for 12 days. He then disputed comments alleging that he told the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson he “knew what he signed up for” and forgot the soldier’s name.

The list goes on, as it tends to with our 45th president.

Trump has also lied about donations he’s made to the military. He 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.

For all his sentimentality in appropriating soldiers, a more honest look at how Trump feels about memorializing veterans was available this weekend. For sale. On his webstore.

On Saturday, the online shop associated with the Donald J. Trump for President web site posted an advertisement on Trump’s Facebook page.

“In honor of Memorial Day, we’re doing 25% off all #MAGA gear!” 

This is what Donald Trump really thinks of the military. Something he can cash in on.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has repeatedly criticized the president for “the Trump effect“, which it has called a virus in our country.

More and more members of our armed forces are realizing what this means for the democracy they fought for, and from what we can see, they’re getting fed up. They’re waking to the reality that what’s worst for Trump and the Republicans is what’s best for America.

One headline we came across while researching this piece was called “Three younger veterans stake a generational claim on the Democratic Party”. Millennial Democrats, standing up. That’s what we like to see.

Going forward, we can raise awareness by equipping ourselves with the facts. Every time Trump and his supporters start tooting their own horns about the military, we can remind them of how he got his Purple Heart. He was handed it, the same as he was handed his money.

A veteran in Virginia gave Trump a Purple Heart medal during an August 2016 campaign speech — and the future commander-in-chief saw nothing untoward in accepting it.

“I always wanted to get a Purple Heart,” he said proudly, pinning it to his lapel. “This way is a lot easier.”

The quick and easy way is not what got us here. In the age of Donald Trump, we can all use a reminder of that.

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