I am not the most militaristic person in the world. I am willing to criticize American military excesses. I think defense spending should be rationalized and cut way down.
But I respect people who join the military. It is a calling, a way of life that is based on the willingness to give up one’s life if necessary.
To some degree, we all share that. Most of us would endanger ourselves to pull a child out of harm’s way. We care for the sick and disabled in our families, often sacrificing something of our own.
My cousin was a frogman in Italy in World War II. He survived until he was 96, and I loved him and was proud of him the entire time. My father had a story about how he almost signed up for the army in World War II until his family doctor told the draft board he was nearly deaf.
So this is both incomprehensible and, literally, sickening to me.
When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.
Trump rejected the idea of the visit because 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 discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “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 as “suckers” for getting killed.
Later he asked who the good guys were in that war.