It is hard enough for Gold Star children to heal from the wound of losing a parent. Never should they have to endure the pain of anyone picking at the scar that eventually forms over it. I can only speak for my boy and myself, and certainly not for other military families, but here is what I would advise President Trump:
Go on television immediately, from the Oval Office, and speak directly to these Gold Star children. If you want, deny that you said those awful things. But tell them you are sorry anyway. Say that no child should ever think that the commander in chief would utter such hurtful lies. Tell them that their mom or dad — or anyone who has made the ultimate sacrifice — is more of a hero than you will ever be. Humble yourself.
If Mr. Trump had it in his heart to extend his empathy to all the Gold Star adults who are suffering as well, that would be great. But he must speak to our children.
As for Jordan, I have used this moment to repeat some of his favorite stories about his dad. He knows that his father broke his big toe in combat during the first gulf war and that, despite the pain, he shoved his foot back in his boot and kept marching.
Jordan knows that when I asked his father about what his duties were in Iraq, he responded, “Everything from making sure my soldiers get their mail to recovering their bodies.” It did not matter whether they were from a blue or a red state.
Jordan knows that his dad missed his birth, because Charles wouldn’t leave Iraq until every soldier he led into combat could come home first. Jordan also knows that this determination ignited one of the biggest fights I ever had with his father, but that now, so many years later, I am proud of him for it — and for our shared sacrifice on behalf of our country.
After I reminded Jordan of all of this, I asked him who he thought had shown more patriotism for the country we love — his father or the man who may well consider him a loser.
“My dad,” he said, and proudly smiled.
Dana Canedy is a former New York Times journalist and the author of “A Journal for Jordan.”
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