He Knew WHat He Signed Up For

“He Knew What He Signed Up For”

By Chris Hotchkin

    We do not know exactly what President Trump said to Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, in a phone call to her when she was in a car on her way to meet her husband’s body as it came home from Dover Air Force Base. We do not know what empathy-impaired tone of voice Trump used, or why he did most of the talking. We do know that Trump struggled to recall La David’s name while talking with his widow, Myeshia. When a loved one is killed in battle, his name becomes very important. What really upset Myeshia was that Trump, the Commander in Chief, didn’t seem to know her husband La David’s name. There is a saying among Gold Star families that as long as your beloved hero’s name is still spoken, he has not really died. Getting Sgt. La David Johnson’s name right was really important, and Trump blew that bigly. Instead of apologizing, he accused this widow of lying. Imagine that—imagine what level of cowardice and selfishness it takes to do that.

   “He knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway”, said Trump. We are learning more about Sgt. Johnson’s actions in Niger. He was a hero who tried to save his brothers in battle. It may be that what Trump meant to say, and totally bungled, was that Sgt. La David Johnson was a hero because he knew that serving in Special Forces was dangerous, but he served anyway. He went to Niger. He drove back into danger to try to save his brothers in battle. President Trump wouldn’t know about that kind of sacrifice and courage. He avoided serving thanks to “bone spurs”. He bragged about getting a Purple Heart the “easy way”—someone gave it to him and he dangled our country’s most beautiful and precious military medal in front of a political rally like it was some meaningless trinket from a Cracker Jack box. Our current Commander in Chief is clueless, a true moron, when it comes to honor and courage.

    “He knew what he signed up for.” Aside from being insensitive, this statement is dangerous, especially when it comes from the mouth of a despotic president who refers to “his generals” and “his military”.  Trump seems to think that these human beings, these husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, these soldiers and marines and sailors and airmen, are his to do with as he wishes—because that is what they signed up for. They are not his, they are ours, and we do not want their lives sacrificed to Trump’s need to wag a dog or prove his manhood or whatever other personal issue might lead him to send men and women, our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, into battles that should not be fought.

   I did not get a call from President Obama in June of 2010 when my son, PFC Gunnar Hotchkin, was killed in a battle with insurgents in Kunduz, Afghanistan. That non-call is not important to me. I did get a letter signed by President Obama. I do not know if the very same letter was sent to so many other parents during that time of the surge in Afghanistan, when too many of our own were killed in that far-away place. The letter is nice, but it does not matter. When Trump bragged (and lied) that he called all the Gold Star families and Obama did not, he thought he was making himself look so good. What Trump doesn’t understand, and is incapable of understanding, is that Gold Star families do not care about what anyone does for them, even a president. We really don’t. We care about the honor and memory of our fallen sons and husbands. We care about their names.