As a retired Navy captain, I am proud to have served my country for over two decades. During that time, I served under six different commanders-in-chief. All honored and respected our military. In contrast President Trump, the current commander-in-chief, regards my fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines as “losers” and “suckers.”
Inscribed above the chapel door of the U.S. Naval Academy, my alma mater, is the Latin phrase “Non sibi sed patriae” which translates into “Not self, but country.”
The late Senator John S. McCain, a 1958 graduate of Naval Academy, exemplified the spirit of that motto. While flying his 23rd mission over North Vietnam, McCain’s plane was shot down, and he was badly injured. He spent the next five and one-half years in captivity enduring torture, beatings, and solitary confinement. Not once did he place himself above his fellow prisoners or his country.
After retirement from the Navy, McCain served 31 years as a U.S. senator. Throughout his life, McCain clearly put country above self. He died August 2018.
According to Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine, when President Trump heard flags were flying half-staff to honor McCain, he reportedly said ‘What the -- — are we doing that for? Guy was a ----ing loser.” McCain was the antithesis of a “loser.” McCain was a true patriot.
My fellow servicemen and women of the U.S. Marine Corps are the latest to endure the Trump’s scorn.
Again, according to The Atlantic magazine and several other news outlets including FOX News, Trump, during a 2018 visit to France, referred to the 2,289 Marines and soldiers buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery as “losers.”
He said the cemetery was filled with “suckers.” The cemetery sits near the foot of Belleau Wood, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of WWI. The Marines were such tenacious fighters that the Germans called them “devil dogs.” They were not “losers” nor were they “suckers.” They were United States Marines.
In 2016, I wrote a letter to The Wenatchee World outlining my reasons why I thought Trump was not qualified to be commander-in-chief of our armed forces. I had hoped he would grow into the job.
He has not.
To me his motto should be “not for country, but for self.”
If Trump wins in November, I fear for our democracy, our nation, and especially for the men and women in uniform. My hope is that we will have a new commander-in-chief on January 20, 2021.
Buford Howell, Captain, USN, Retired