(CNN)Last Tuesday, a veteran supporter handed Donald Trump a Purple Heart medal. Trump’s flippant response: “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”
As a veteran, I was quite simply astonished.
I fought for our country in Iraq. I was wounded, and was awarded a Purple Heart. I can tell you, no one should ever “want” to get a Purple Heart.
Trump could have ignored the Khans. He could have responded to their criticism with the respect they have earned. But instead — in keeping with what we are learning about his character — he resorted to innuendo, bigotry and bullying.
He accused Khizr Khan of not writing his own speech and insinuated that Ghazala Khan was not allowed to speak because she is a Muslim woman never mind that just the day before, Ghazala Khan spoke about her son with tears in her eyes.
Meanwhile, Trump’s team launched a racist and xenophobic smear campaign against the Khans. Longtime ally Roger Stone and “veteran co-chair” Al Baldasaro spread baseless articles on Twitter that Khizr Khan is a secret agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
If there was any question before, there should be no question now: Donald Trump does not have the character or temperament to serve as commander in chief. The first responsibility of the commander in chief is to treat the willingness to sacrifice of those who voluntarily step forward to serve our country with the utmost seriousness.
The President’s power to draw on that willingness to sacrifice and to send young men and women into harm’s way is a sacred trust. Having thick enough skin to receive criticism from military families without lashing out at them is a baseline prerequisite for assuming the responsibility for making decisions that can end up leaving empty seats at family dinner tables.
In the Marine Corps, we say that the title of Marine is “earned, never given.” So, too, with the salute the commander in chief receives. Earned, not given, and Trump has not earned it.
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