I served 36 years in the U.S. Army and represented the chief of staff of the Army at the funerals of soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
To this day, I am seared with the memory of the heart-wrenching agony of the wives, husbands, children and parents of those who have fallen as I presented them with the American flag. Once a year, I write a letter to the children of those fallen comrades to remind them that their loved one was a hero and will always be remembered.
A quote popularly attributed to George Washington says, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”
With only 1 percent of Americans serving in uniform today, they and their families have earned our utmost respect.
A commander-in-chief must know and understand the consequences of a decision that requires some Americans to make the “ultimate sacrifice” and what his or her decision means to their families.
Donald Trump’s insult to the Gold Star parents of Capt. Humayun Khan demonstrates that he lacks the judgment to order our nation’s finest to fight and to sometimes die for us.
Putting aside Trump’s insult to Khan’s mother by suggesting she did not have the fortitude to speak (she was still too overwhelmed with grief), Trump’s comparison of his sacrifices – building great structures, hiring tons of people, donating to veteran groups, being “successful” – to the sacrifice made by the Khan family, can’t be ignored or explained away by any politician, Republican or Democrat.
His total absence of empathy and his narcissism seen in the context of the sacrifices of our brave men, women and their families alone should disqualify him from being our commander-in-chief.
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Robin Umberg served as undersecretary for the California Department of Veteran Affairs. She is the mother of three and the wife of a retired Army colonel, and lives in Villa Park. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.