Cross-posted on my page at Medium.com.
It is Memorial Day, 2016. I write this as a thank you to those who have died for our country.
Whether one likes or dislikes America, ordinary men and women gave their lives for it. That act is worth every person’s respect.
When I say “every person,” I include Donald J. Trump. Someone needs to remind him to show more regard for our servicepeople.
As the man starts a migration towards the center in his quest for the presidency, America must hold him to statements like, “I like guys who weren’t captured.”
I also write this piece as a man who shares a commonality with Donald Trump: both of us volunteered for elements of a military school education, yet did not go on to serve in the military.
Donald Trump went to a military school for high school. I was in Navy ROTC my first three semesters of college.
My long-story-short: I showed up as the Cold War ended and the Department of Defense was reducing spending. My ROTC experience was like working in a downsizing company. The unit’s Executive Officer got an early retirement, scholarships and officer billets were cut. So, after three semesters, I asked if they needed me and they said no. I broke the speed of sound running for the door.
Years later, my first book would be about corporate layoffs. NROTC in the early 1990s felt like a business during that time before the axe falls.
People like Donald Trump and I got a glimpse of military life but chose not serve in the military.
We had our heads shaved, got screamed at, did push-ups, ran in formation, spit-shined shoes, were rousted out of our racks up 0400 (not 4 a.m.), ironed creases into our blouses and trousers, did an About Face when the Instructor ordered a Right Face and then got screamed at and did lots of push-ups, learned to begin and end every sentence with “Sir!”’ —
But neither he or I served one day in the military.
Not one day.
His military school years and my time in Navy ROTC were warm-ups, training, dry-run versions. Military-lite.
I value those three semesters. Even the ass-chewings from the Gunnery Sergeant are cool, in retrospect.
But when Drumpf says things like the quotes in the meme above, I get creeped out.
Not annoyed or pissed off. (I will leave those emotions to our veterans and people who have lost loved ones to war.) I get scared.
Donald must not pretend about military service. No. He is more than welcome to pretend. That is his First Amendment right. But no way in hell should we Americans elect him to the highest office in the land.
People like Drumpf and I have no business saying the types of things that he says. Anyone who wants access to the nuclear codes should never think of uttering words that ignorant.
True, Barack Obama didn’t serve in the military. And never once has he acted like it. One can be the Commander-In-Chief without serving in the military. Our system was designed to be accommodating like that.
It was not designed for a non-military person who thinks he was in the military — a person who thinks he is naturally a better military thinker than actual military thinkers. No country has that type system.
Because that’s crazy. Caligula-crazy.
Donald Trump: the enlisted people who fix Humvees and chip paint off the sides of ships may not have the most glamorous of military experiences. But compared to guys like you and I: those are military experiences.
Sadly, Donald Trump is more run-of-the-mill and less unique. Plenty of white guys these days share his views.
White guys related to white guys who helped win World War Two — some of us internalize that connection to Soldiers, Sailors, Marines or Airmen way way WAYYYY too much.
One can’t ignore the racial element of it. America was founded by militaristic white guys. Many descendants feel a connection to the military that they don’t deserve. They see a person of color in a uniform and think that this person is second-rate military.
Even someone like Colin Powell — some white guys, deep down, they just don’t see it as right. And women in uniform? Forget it.
War is part of American folklore. That brand of war centers on white men.
Even though the folklore doesn’t mesh with today’s reality, this doesn’t matter to a certain type of white dude.
“I always felt like I was in the military,” said Donald Trump — and countless other white dudes who have never given a thought to actual military service.
When did chickenhawks become so cool?
News stories about the world’s trepidation—I understand the world’s energy.
Donald Trump’s warlike words are also the words of a draft dodger. The guy used his family’s money to protect him from war. Five times.
That takes his miltaristic attitude to another level when it comes to why he shouldn’t be in charge of our military.
He sounds like he enjoyed hazing younger cadets, then opted out of actual service when it was needed.
One can’t be Commander-In-Chief when one thinks that way. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen will die. Innocent people will die.
Yes, these happen during the course of any presidency, no matter who is in the Oval Office.
But a president shouldn’t be looking for it the way Trump is looking for it.
When the world talks about their concern over military actions from a Trump administration, I get it.
As a man who shares Trump’s level of military experience, I get it.
— Check out more of my writing at Medium.com.