When Donald Trump was handed a veteran’s Purple Heart medal at a campaign rally recently, he exclaimed, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier!”
Trump dangled the medal, given to him by a fan, in front of the cameras.
This didn’t sit too well with Will Fischer, who earned his purple heart the old-fashioned way. Purple Hearts are reserved for veterans wounded or killed during service.
Fischer, head of the Union Veterans Council of the AFL-CIO, published a clip on Facebook August 2 in which he said:
“Hi, everybody. Will Fischer, Iraq War veteran, and United States Marine. Recently, during a speech, Donald Trump remarked that he had always wanted a Purple Heart. Well, on the 19th of August, 2004, I was awarded a Purple Heart. And my brother who lost half an arm that day, he was awarded a Purple Heart. And my brother who lost an eye that day, he was awarded a Purple Heart. And my brother who was killed that day, he was awarded a Purple Heart. Purple Hearts equal bad days, Donald. And nobody — nobody with one, ever wanted it.”
The post got more than 2 million views in five days from the Union Veterans Facebook page. Then NowThis Election published it and got over 10 million pageviews. The message definitely resonated.
“Before I made that video, 99 percent of the people in my life didn’t know I had a Purple Heart, Fischer told me.
“It’s a reminder of bad days, so I didn’t talk about it. But I was just so troubled by what [Trump] said and his cavalier manner in discussing something that was so impactful in my life.”
Fischer emphasized that he has no ill will toward the man who gave the medal to Trump.
“That’s not the point,” he explained. “That man earned it and can do whatever he wants with it. My issue is with a presidential candidate being so cavalier and so gauche about getting one. It’s interesting to hear him express that he “always wanted a Purple Heart” but he used five deferments to get out of Vietnam.”
Fischer sees the comment from Trump as one more example of Trump disparaging soldiers and working-class families who serve in the military.
“It’s woefully inappropriate for someone who wants to be Commander-in-Chief. And this on the heels of him attacking the Khan family [the Muslim American parents of a deceased soldier] after the convention,” he said.
“Trump is nothing but a chickenhawk charlatan who wants to send more men and women into combat — working class kids, not Donald Jr., or Ivanka, or Tiffany, or Eric, or Barron,” Fischer said, listing Trump’s five children. “His kids will never see combat; working class kids will.”
Another veteran, Cameron Kerr, who earned his Purple Heart by losing his leg, started a GoFundMe campaign asking contributors to chip in to fly Donald Trump to the conflict zone of his choosing, because “you’re never too old to follow your dreams”. Kerr admits up front that the chances of the campaign actually sending Trump to combat are nil, so he tells contributors that his fallback is to send the money to one of three charities instead, all of which provide aid to Syrian refugees (a good cause, he notes, which Trump would vehemently oppose).
It’s raised $60,000 so far, and is still going.
Brandon Weber has written for Upworthy, Liberals Unite, and Good.Is magazine, mostly on economics, labor union history, and working people. He is working on two books, one on forgotten labor history and one on the fatally flawed foster and adoption system, and some ways to fix it.