President Donald Trump has referred to Americans who died in American wars in the past as “losers” and “suckers,” The Atlantic reported on Thursday, citing comments the president made prior to a scheduled 2018 visit to a military cemetery near an important World War I battle site.
This is the Labor Day weekend, where this great nation celebrates one kind of hero; Memorial Day was in May, but the publication of the president’s remarks above takes me back a few months. I join my voice here with, probably, 329 of the 330 million Americans alive today to say to teachers and parents: Reassure your students their mom or dad, their grandfather or great-grandfather—or any other family member killed in a war or any military venture in the service of this country and its ideals—was neither a loser nor a sucker because of that service.
Maybe they were too humble to think of themselves as heroes, so I will not force that label upon them either, but then they were men and women giving every ounce of effort they had in their spirit to serve this country we love. The president, likewise, should not force upon them the label of ‘loser’ or ‘sucker,’ even though their goals in life and in serving the country may have been very different from his own.
Please do not let your students be swayed by the opinion of one man who thinks, I honestly believe, that anyone who serves others despite no promise of personal gain is a “sucker.” Since the beginning of wars, military service has never been about personal gain, so in addition to being cruel, the president’s belief is also inaccurate in that it reflects a fundamental misconception about what military service and national allies are all about.
Furthermore, I want to encourage students, still, who feel a calling to serve this nation in the military to push that goal forward as fervently as ever. Leaders in the military, many of whom serve in a scientific or engineering capacity, are some of the brightest men and women in the world. The president is simply wrong in his characterization, and you should not let a viewpoint such as that guide your direction in life.