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“Man,” Donald Trump said, as retired Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman handed him a Purple Heart medal on Aug. 2, 2016. “‘... that's, like, that's, like, big stuff.' I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier."
For approximately 500,000 living veterans, a chord was struck with these words, and for many of us it was not a pleasant sound. And that number is only about a quarter to a third of those who have received the medal over the course of history. Many recipients never even saw the profile of Gen. George Washington in their hand or wore it upon their uniform; it was presented instead to their surviving spouses or parents along with a folded flag. It wasn’t easy in the least, not for any of us.
You see, for those of us men and women who have felt real pain and the ramifications of real hate — not the superficial nonsense Trump displays in all his blustering at perceived or real verbal insults — we didn’t “get” the Purple Heart. There is no “getting” that award just as there is no “wanting” it. None of us volunteer for combat with the hope that we will come home in pieces, and some among us don’t get to come home at all. It’s not supposed to be easy to receive those medals. The meaning is lost when we start giving them away to people who don’t understand that.
I, for one, would rather have my memories back, be able to breathe without pain searing my brain ahead of a rainstorm, walk in a straight line, and tell the difference between my friends and strangers. That would be preferable to the purple ribbon on my dress blues.
I didn’t want the award because I knew it meant at least a piece of me would be left behind. We didn’t get the award; we each traded something for it. We traded our brains, our limbs, and many times our lives for that piece of metal.
So Trump’s words were accurate. Yes, it is big stuff. That medal symbolizes my sacrifice and the sacrifices of all those for whom that citation was read before and after me. But he didn’t have to trade anything. Trump didn’t raise his right hand to take the oath to complete the required trade for the metal should it become necessary in a fight for his fellow military members’ lives. He saw no action, no merit, no wounds, no military service.
But Trump got it. Right there tucked in his coat pocket, he got a Purple Heart. It was not awarded, it was not earned, he didn’t even have to spend $40 shipping from Marlow White since someone gave it to him. But Trump did, in fact, “get” one. That’s the only word for it. And I even believe that, yes, he wanted to get one. He certainly didn’t want to give something up for it; not his life or limbs or eyesight or the internal infrastructure that powers the mind.
Me, I traded a piece of myself for mine. No give-backsies on that trade, either. I am stuck with a Purple Heart as a constant symbol of what I used to be, and it reminds me what I had to go through after I got it. Maybe Trump can keep his as a way to remind himself of whom he could have become, maybe it will even inspire him to act with the merit inscribed on the back — to treat those around him with a bit of respect, honor, and humility. I don’t know that it has such power, but what are we if we don’t have hope, right?
Trump got what he wanted. I hope it does more than sit in his coat pocket and make him feel proud of how easy it was. I hope it makes him reconsider some of his definitions of sacrifice and honor.
But while I wait for that day, as I simultaneously wait for hell to freeze over, I’ll just sit here and reflect on how proud I am that he’ll never get mine.
The White House doctor still under investigation for doling out pills like a ‘candy man’ is now running for Congress
Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician and retired Navy rear admiral who had a short run as the nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018, now plans to run for a seat in Congress.
University of Phoenix to pay $191 million for lying to troops about its close ties with major companies
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The University of Phoenix, which is owned by Apollo Education Group, has agreed to pay $191 million to settle charges that it falsely advertised close ties with major U.S. companies that could lead to jobs for students, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday.
The University of Phoenix will pay $50 million to the FTC to return to consumers and cancel $141 million in student debt.
Some of the advertisements targeted military and Hispanic students, the FTC said.
As UCF research associate Shane Reynolds guides his avatar over a virtual minefield using his iPad, small beeps and whistles reveal the location of the scourge of the modern war zone: Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. He must take his time to sweep every last inch of the playing field to make sure his character doesn't miss any of the often-deadly bombs.
Despite his slow pace, Reynolds makes a small misstep and with a kaboom! a bomb blows up his player, graphically scattering body parts.
The Navy has posthumously awarded aviator and aircrewman wings to three sailors killed in last week's shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
"The selfless acts of heroism displayed by these young Sailors the morning of Dec. 6 are nothing short of incredible," Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Daniel Dwyer said in a statement.