This weekend, President Donald Trump stunned the nation when he decided to bail on attending both a ceremony honoring fallen WWI soldiers on Saturday and skip out on a visit to the Arlington National Cemetary this afternoon.
One of the most basic duties of the leader of a nation is to lead its people in honoring those who have sacrificed their lives in its service, and for him to fail not once but twice at this sacred duty is beyond disgraceful.
President Obama’s former Secretary of Defense, the two-time Purple Heart recipient and former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, slammed the draft-dodging Trump for failing to show up at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, calling it an “embarrassment” and a “letdown” for our veterans:
“He should’ve gone through it to go. It was not that big a challenge or problem. It was an embarrassment. And he let down, I think, our veterans, he let down our country. And I think he sent a very wrong message to the world.”
He’s absolutely right. While France’s Emanuelle Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel held a similar ceremony in Compiegne and celebrated the unity that now binds Europe together, our president was alone in his hotel room, likely watching FOX News and tweeting.
Hagel also tore into Trump for failing to visit any combat zones yet, which the majority of predecessors had done by this point in their presidencies:
“To me, it’s a recognition that when a country has men and women at war who are dying — like we do have people dying, still, in Afghanistan — and not recognize that by going and by looking and asking questions and being part of that personally, rather than just getting reports in the morning or in the afternoon, that’s a misstep.
But I think it’s bigger than just a misstep. I think it’s a failure of an obligation — of a basic obligation of a commander in chief. He’s commander in chief of our forces and not to go to a war zone where we have men and women dying, that’s just wrong.”
Watch his interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar here:
"It was an embarrassment," says former Defense secretary Chuck Hagel about Trump skipping the veterans event: "He let down our veterans, he let down our country." https://t.co/xz7o6nEKTx pic.twitter.com/Y7ZdcbmKNO
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) November 12, 2018