Rev. Peter Kakos: The candidate who dishonors Memorial Day 

Published: 5/29/2016 7:55:44 PM


If any holiday can be said to be somber, it would be Memorial Day. Tens of millions devoutly set aside time to remember their son or daughter, dad or high school classmates, who lost this life for love of their country.

Whether they died by an accident while training, by “friendly fire” or on the front lines of combat, each and every one are heroes in the sense that at any given moment, they would have sacrificed themselves for us.

Last fall, a candidate for the presidency had the gall to label as “a coward” a young pilot shot down over the swamps of Vietnam and then tortured in a prisoner ­of ­war camp. He survived this hellish ordeal, and has gone on to devote the rest of his life to serving our nation as an influential senator, highly regarded by both political parties.

So, we ask, other than for the sake of cruel slander, what could possess someone like Donald Trump to disgrace John McCain’s reputation?

Put another way, what does it tell us about the character of this man hoping to be president?

Given that he is the presumptive Republican candidate for the most powerful office in the world, it is an extremely serious question, which not only he, but also those who have blind faith in him, must answer.

Our veterans, as well as all Americans, deserve a clear and forthright explanation, not just for this holiday’s sake, but for their own dignity.

Add to this the fact that Trump himself was declared unfit to be drafted due to an insignificant bone­ spur -- a condition that could be nothing more than a stretched ligament under the heel, requiring, in most cases, nothing more than a temporary change in activity to mend. Ask any long-distance runner.

To put this claim into perspective, I offer this: in the fall of 1968, I, along with 40 others, were bussed from the Somerville draft­ board to a base in South Boston, where I was declared fit to fight by a military doctor who refused to take into account a triple concussion I sustained as a toddler after falling two stories from our family’s second-floor apartment as my mother, in shock, stared down at me as I looked up to her on a wooden landing in a slowly expanding halo of blood.

The point is, if a medical officer could feel a pulse, he deemed you to be able to train for combat.

Not only does Civilian Trump have no right to claim that anyone who volunteers to wear the uniform of our beloved country is a coward, but he also exposes to all his followers his true self: an out-­of-­control member of the 1 percent, who dares you to defame his reputation, armed as he is with a legion of lawyer/­warriors restlessly waiting to tie you up in court, or take you down by going public with the slightest flaw his litigious minions might uncover about you.

By the way, this modus operandi was how Trump made vast sums of money, now put to garish and lavish use, staging cross­country political shows, or press­ conferences from his flag-­draped, palaces. This candidate is a madman driven by egotistical pride to succeed at any cost, monetarily or morally. It does not matter how extraordinary you may be, such as distinguished veterans like John McCain, or as ordinary as a young woman from Appalachia looking for any way to fund her education after growing up in a semi-­abandoned mining ­town.

What demographic group in our land could, with any degree of confidence, back a man who rides roughshod over decorated soldiers’ lives?

Not veterans or their families and friends; not those still serving and their loved ones back home; not those who care for the homeland our troops at this moment risk their lives to defend; not any citizen who feels the deep sting of hearing on the radio of a close friend’s death in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan.

Then who?

The Rev. Peter Kakos lives in Northampton.




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