When asked about Trump’s insinuation that the retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should deserve the death penalty, the decorated Army general stressed that he’s a soldier who’s been faithful to the Constitution for more than 44 years and that he is willing to die to support and defend the Constitution, according to CBS News.
General Mark Milley added that he has taken “appropriate measures” to ensure his safety.
What does it say about a political party, about our nation, when a man who has devoted his life to service to his country needs to take “appropriate measures” because a deranged presidential candidate has put his safety in jeopardy.
“A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
— President Abraham Lincoln
Last Friday, a man who faces 91 felony counts (today, in a civil lawsuit, a New York judge ruled “that Donald Trump committed fraud for years….”), a man who has never served our country in the military, a man who pompously wore the title of commander in chief like a tinpot general, has once again disgraced the U.S. military — “his military” — he swore to diligently command and respect.
He did so by baselessly accusing the nation’s highest-ranking military officer of treason and, wait for it, by grotesquely suggesting that America’s top general deserves to be put to death.
The alleged “act [was] so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH!” posted the bone spurs, ex-commander in chief on his social-media network, Truth Social.
Trump’s violent rhetoric was directed at the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Army General, Mark Milley, falsely and maliciously alleging that Milley “was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States.”
It was not the first time that Trump insulted, denigrated “his generals.”
In his book “Rage,” Bob Woodward quotes Trump saying this about “his generals”: “My f*cking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals.”
Trump does not care whether the target of his appalling contempt and insensibility is a four-star general or the mother of an enlisted soldier.
While talking to the grieving widow of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, a soldier who was killed serving in northwestern Africa, Trump callously said that “[Johnson] knew what he signed up for…but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”
Trump’s comments are consistent with the attitude he reportedly displayed on Memorial Day 2017, when he visited the grave of 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, the son of his then-homeland security secretary and later chief of staff John Kelly. Standing at the grave of the younger Kelly, who died in Afghanistan in 2010, Trump reportedly turned to the Secretary and said: “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
Nor does Trump “get” the grief experienced by other parents of the fallen, such as the parents of Humayun Khan, an Army captain who was killed in Iraq in 2004.Gold Star parents he publicly belittled on ABC News.
Perhaps Trump may have some respect and show empathy for those who have suffered from PTSD, for those who have languished as prisoners of war, for those who have been wounded, who have lost a limb, or for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.
In 2016, Trump disparaged service members who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, suggesting that those returning from war with PTSD are not as “strong” as those who are able to “handle it.”
A few years later, Trump downplayed the seriousness of brain blast injuries suffered by our troops during an Iranian strike against a U.S. base in Iraq by dismissing the injuries as “headaches and a couple of other things.”
In September 2019, as part of the welcoming ceremony for Gen. Mark Milley as the new Chairman of the JCS, Milley had chosen Army Captain Luis Avila to sing “God Bless America.” According to Margaret Hartmann at The Intelligencer, Avila “had completed five combat tours, had lost a leg in an IED attack in Afghanistan and had suffered two heart attacks, two strokes, and brain damage as a result of his injuries.”
Hartmann notes that, after Avila’s performance, Trump said to Miley, “ “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.” “Never let Avila appear in public again…”
It wasn’t the first time that Trump revealed his disgust for our wounded warriors. During the planning for “the biggest, grandest military parade ever” for the 2019 Fourth of July celebration, Trump told his new chief of staff, John Kelly, “Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade…This doesn’t look good for me.”
What does Trump think of service members who are captured in battle by the enemy, often tortured, sometimes murdered?
Trump said this about former Senator John McCain, a decorated Vietnam War hero, a Navy pilot who spent years as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Even in death, Trump could not let go of a grudge, could not – as commander in chief – honor a national hero. He refused to attend John McCain’s funeral — a “loser’s funeral” — and is alleged to have furiously added, when he saw flags lowered at half staff for the Senator, ‘“What the f*ck are we doing that for? Guy was a f*cking loser.”
Finally, and most disgracefully, the guy who “loves the military” showed his true colors during what was supposed to be a solemn visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in November 2018, a sacred place where 2,289 American servicemen rest, most of them killed during the bloody, nearly one-month long World War I battle for Belleau Wood. A brutal battle that took the lives of 1,800 U.S. Marines.
At the last minute, Trump canceled the visit to the Cemetery, blaming rain saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true, according to the The Atlantic which writes:
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…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.
Trump has often angrily denied these and other allegations about disparaging comments he has made about our military, just as he has continued to deny just about every credible accusation, charge and indictment against him.
In “A Commander in Chief’s Disdain for the Troops,” I wrote three years ago about many of these appalling cases of disrespect for the military by Trump.
I concluded, “Perhaps, these latest, sordid revelations about this aberration we have acting as commander in chief will be forgotten once again as other ‘bigger and better’ scandals take the limelight.
Yes, there are many “bigger and better scandals” surrounding this man. However, no matter how felonious the new scandals, we must never forget or forgive Trump’s appalling disrespect, contempt, for our service members.
For “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.