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John Schneck of Bangor represents District 126 in the Maine House of Representatives. He is Speaker of the House on the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs and Legal Affairs and a Veteran of the United States Navy.
During my time in the United States Naval Reserve during the Vietnam War, I served alongside some of the most honorable people I have ever met. We were all united by a common goal: to defend the nation in which we grew up and the values we believed in. During the defense of this nation and these values, many of those I knew ended up making the ultimate sacrifice: their lives.
Every true leader of the armed forces of the Americas knows that their highest obligation, above all else, is to honor those who gave their lives in the service of this country. This is why I was so appalled to hear that President Donald Trump called those we lost in the war losers and suckers.
These comments from anyone are disgusting. From the president of our nation, they are downright anti-American. They demonstrate a fact that we have known for some time: Trump is unfit to be the Commander-in-Chief of our nation.
On the Presidents’ most serious priority list, being a trusted leader for our troops tops. To do their job well, our soldiers must know that leadership at all levels supports them. This means that for our military to be successful, the more than one million Americans in uniform need a strong, compassionate, and trustworthy leader who they would be comfortable with in a foxhole.
Trump is not that person.
Mocking the brave Americans who sacrificed their lives and physical integrity to defend our freedoms as losers or suckers does not demonstrate strength. It does not show compassion. And that certainly does not demonstrate the reliability that soldiers must see from their commander-in-chief.
Trump has spent his presidency wrapped in the American flag. Yet when it comes to actually supporting our troops, he has failed in the worst possible way. He has no real respect for those who have given their all for our country and, in addition to these recent comments, has a long history of denigrating those who have served.
Take, for example, Trumps’ obsession with disparaging the late Senator John McCain. McCain is a true American hero who has faced unthinkable suffering in defense of the United States. Yet, according to Trump, McCain is not a war hero as he was captured during the Vietnam War. When I hear these comments, I begin to wonder what Trump might say about me if I was captured or killed while serving in the line of duty. Our troops need someone who will honor them for the sacrifices they make. This president does not honor our troops, he shames them.
Perhaps even more shocking that Trumps ashamed of the fallen troops was the way Republicans in Congress refused to denounce him for it. I was particularly offended by the silence of our own Senator, Susan Collins. In 2016, Collins said publicly that she could not support Trumps’ candidacy and cited her attacks on the McCain and Gold Star families as justification. Yet four years later, she refuses to even tell us whether she thinks Trump deserves a second term as Commander-in-Chief, let alone whether she doesn’t agree with his disgusting attacks on our troops.
Trump, Collins, and the Republican Party want Americans to believe they are the real patriots. In fact, Trump is open about his lack of respect for those who fight for our country, and Collins and his fellow Republicans have refused to hold him accountable.
The armed forces of the Americas deserve a Commander-in-Chief who knows and respects the sacrifices they make for the country they love. This is why I will vote for Joe Biden. Biden knows the heartbreaking feeling of sending a child to war and believes that honoring Americans in uniform is a sacred obligation. I know Biden will be the strong, compassionate, and trustworthy leader our troops desperately need.
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