On Thursday, President Donald Trump met with seven veterans of the Vietnam War during his East Asia tour. He signed a declaration commemorating the war, and let the veterans speak for themselves. Each of the four who spoke offered praise for Trump, and some explicitly supported him politically.
“I do admire what you’re doing with our country, thank you for your dedication to our military,” Steve Hopper, a veteran from Greenfield, Ill., said at the podium. “We’re all behind you in making America great again.”
Bill Reynolds from Santa Clarita, Calif., chimed in as well. “My family is so proud. My wife loves you. She does. We all love you,” Reynolds said.
“All of the veterans that I represent in my community asked me to say to you: Keep doing what you’re doing. We need to win. We need to make America great again. And we definitely think you are on the right track,” the California veteran added.
Robert Good, from Stevenson Ranch, Calif., hesitated to speak. When he finally did, he said, “You know, it’s an honor for me to be here today to meet the President of the United States that’s doing such a fine job for America.”
“I’m so proud of him and what he’s doing, and I’m also really proud to represent all those veterans that are back home, to be one of seven of these veterans that are here today,” Good added. “It’s such an honor to represent the rest of those veterans in the United States of America.”
Max Morgan, of Santa Clarita, Calif., did not express political support for President Trump, but he broke into tears at the president’s decision to honor veterans.
“Mr. President, from my heart, thank you for your support of the military, and it’s an honor to be here as one of seven Vietnam veterans representing the 58,000 heroes who never made it home,” Morgan said, his voice breaking.
In his remarks, Trump hailed these veterans as “great, great warriors and veterans of the Vietnam War.” He added, “Our veterans are a national treasure, and I think them all for their service, sacrifice, and patriotism.”
“To each of you with me today, you are the heroes who fulfilled your duty to our nation, and each of you under the most difficult conditions did what you needed to do and did it well,” Trump added. He said meeting these veterans was “one of my great honors.” He also declared, “We will not rest until all of the 1,253 missing veterans are returned home.”
Trump signed a declaration commemorating the war.
Fifty years ago, in 1967, nearly 500,000 American troops served in South Vietnam, along with approximately 850,000 troops of our allies. Today, during Veterans and Military Families Month and as the Federal Government observes Veterans Day, I am in Vietnam alongside business and political leaders to advance the interests of America, and to promote peace and stability in his region and around the world.
In the declaration, Trump expressed humility before the valor of the men and women who serve the United States. “I cherish this opportunity to recall, with humility, the sacrifices our veterans made for our freedom and our Nation’s strength,” he said.
Trump recalled signing the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 on March 28. That declaration marked March 29 of each year as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.
The president’s statements of humility are particularly striking, given Trump’s notorious pride and braggadocio. That this man known for defending his honor and going to ridiculous lengths to shame his enemies voluntarily speaks of humility before America’s veterans speaks volumes. Perhaps it is a facade, but his demeanor to these seven heroes suggested otherwise.
Trump’s honoring of these fine men also contrasted with two other recent developments. Earlier this week, a group of Vietnam veterans sent a letter setting the record straight after a PBS/Ken Burns documentary about the war glossed over communist atrocities. On Veterans Day Saturday, over one thousand people said they would scream, “Troll in the White House!” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Trump may have done many notorious things during the campaign, and even as president. But his declaration of “humility” before the seven men who laid their lives on the line in Vietnam contrasted powerfully with the people planning to yell at the White House on Veterans Day.
Not all veterans support President Trump, but this event demonstrated why so many men and women who wore the uniform wholeheartedly desire to “Make America Great Again.” The veterans who fought in Vietnam represent the greatness Trump campaigned on, and they know it.
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