Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

Lack Of Respect For Black Soldier's Death


October 19, 2017 | View PDF

Sgt. La David Johnson

President Donald Trump must have thought that he came up with "a winner" when he invoked professional football players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem, as a sign of disrespect to the flag. Colin Kaepernick started his one-man protest long before Trump became president. The facts should show that President Trump didn't say anything about Kaepernick's kneeling until just a few weeks ago. Where was the president's outrage over kneeling before then? Where was his passion for the flag when it was just one individual? It was only after more black NFL players starting kneeling, when President Trump must have decided that "he had seen" enough. When the president made his comments about football players kneeling, it was not at a press conference in reference to a question from a reporter. It was in front of a crowd of his most loyal supporters at a rally (why does he keep doing this?), where he went off script and without gathering his thoughts, the comment about football players kneeling, just came out. Once he got some positive feedback from his audience, he insulted black professional players and mothers all over the nation by referencing them as sons of b----. What made things more troubling was that his audience was wildly cheering. This is in a state in the Bible Belt of America where patriotism is defined as having a bible in one hand, and a gun in the other, wrapped in the flag. Trump professes his "love" for the military, but he has gone against military policy without conferring with "his generals" (he said it), when he arbitrarily announced through an executive order that members of the LGBTQ community could no longer serve in the military. How much more respect can a person have for the flag, when that person volunteers to fight for it, knowing that his/her life may be required to keep the flag flying? It is a personal decision. That is where President Trump finds himself in the latest controversy.

The president is in hot water politically over comments that he allegedly made to the widow of a soldier recently killed in the African nation of Niger. Sgt. La David Johnson, along with three of his comrades were killed in an ambush October 4, but President Trump didn't mention the soldiers' deaths until a few days ago. It has now been revealed that when Mr. Trump talked to Sgt. Johnson's widow, he allegedly said to her of the 25 year old, "I guess he knew what he was getting into when he signed", that left Johnson's wife in tears, and a Florida congresswoman incensed. Unknown to Trump, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, the soldier's representative from Florida, was in the car when the conversation took place. Wilson said that she heard Trump's words that brought Johnson's wife to tears. Wilson was quoted as saying, that Johnson's wife said that Trump never even mentioned the dead soldier's name. Does the president try to "make things right" by straightening things out? No. He blames former presidents as not calling/visiting the families of dead soldiers. After much backlash from former presidents' staff members, Mr. Trump backed away from that allegation. Nevertheless, he saved a parting shot for President Obama, saying that when Chief of Staff John Kelly's son was killed in combat, Mr. Obama did not call Kelly. However, President and First Lady Michelle Obama had Kelly and his wife, with other Gold Star family members attend a private breakfast with them.

The president has a lot to learn about protocol under different conditions. He also needs to know the right words to say when needed. You shouldn't need a scripted speech, or be told how to convey words of condolence to the family of a fallen soldier. Words like those are supposed to come from the heart, not as someone who won't admit to not knowing what to say, or how to say those needed words. President Obama and other presidents were good at offering words of comfort because as leaders, they understood. Instead of criticizing others as President Trump often does. Perhaps he should take a look in the mirror and ask himself what he can do differently. If he looks in the mirror long enough, he may find the answer. Remember, the world is watching. So is God.


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