White House fails to respect fallen soldier's death

Columnist Kayla Kring

Columnist Kayla Kring

We are the land of the free because of the brave. The brave take an oath so their country can station them away from their families and loved ones to protect our freedom. The brave fight for our right to take a knee or to salute stripes of red and white. The brave are those we do not ask for, but are given. In turn, the brave deserve our respect. President Donald Trump has decided differently.

On Oct. 4, militants in Niger killed four U.S. servicemen in an ambush. Among them was Army Sgt. La David Johnson. Not only did this man choose to serve and  protect his country, he did it well, earning him several medals. Yet, President Trump still had the audacity to tell his grieving widow he, “must’ve known what he signed up for,” according to NBC.

Baffled. That is the only way to even remotely describe how one should feel about those seven words. The President of the United States of America disgraced a man who swore to protect those he loved and those whom would never know he existed in seven words. 

No one signs up for any service —whether it be military, army, navy seals, fire fighter, or police officer —to say, “yeah, I may die, but I’m signing up anyway.” They make a commitment to serve and protect their country and their citizens so they may sleep in peace, so that we do not have to worry about the monsters that lurk within the shadows.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Trump states “I have proof” of not diminishing the sergeant’s honor of his service. Yet, the only proof of President Trump not saying such a phrase is he denies it. In other words, the man expects us to take him at his word. The man who disrespects the honorable service of our brave soldiers. The man who entices a war between our country and North Korea. I believe we need more than a man’s word here.

Who does have the proof that Trump stated such a baffling remark to a widow? Rep. Frederica Wilson states she has proof, but all she has managed to tell the press is that she “overheard the conversation.” If we need more than Trump’s word for denial, Wilson must also be held accountable for proving her statement is true as well. Whether we support or oppose a side, fair treatment is a necessity.

Which then brings up an interesting point within this unraveling story of disrespect. According to NPR, “Press Secretary Sarah Sanders clarified that there was no recording of the call, but that there were several people in the room at the time, including retired Marine Gen. John Kelly.” 

Trump’s comment outraged Kelly, according to the Chicago Tribune. Kelly lost his son in Afghanistan and cannot believe “Trump’s willingness to attack any critic and do battle over the most sensitive of matters.”

A soldier has just died. Before he was a soldier he was a loving husband. Before he was a loving husband he was someone’s son. Johnson was a man who plenty of us know by name now due to the publicity of the disrespect he and his family were given by the president.     

He was more than just a man. He meant something to a handful of people, he brought smiles to people’s faces and left memories in their heads. Memories that we will never know. Just because we do not know him personally does not mean he does not deserve respect. And he sure does not deserve to have his family be told that he “must’ve known what he signed up for.” He bravely enlisted to give us our freedom.