ATLANTA — In his first repudiation of Donald Trump’s criticism of the military, President Obama ripped Trump for criticizing the parents of a Muslim American Army officer who was killed in Iraq, and exclaimed that the U.S. still has “the most capable fighting force in history, and we’re going to keep it that way”.
After receiving a prolonged and thunderous applause during his introduction at the 95th Disabled American Veterans (DAV) convention at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta, Obama simultaneously renounced Trump and honored Khizr and Ghazala Khan, without mentioning any of them by name. The Khans’ son, Humayun Khan, an Army captain, was killed during the Iraq war in 2004.
If you recall, the Khans spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week and blasted Trump for his anti-Muslim rhetoric. Mr. Khan even pulled out a pocket-sized book of the U.S. Constitution for Trump to read, which inspired raucous applause from the DNC. Trump, as expected, lashed back at the Khans, telling them they had no right to criticize him.
Back in Atlanta, Obama told disabled war veterans that “gold star families have made a sacrifice that most of us cannot even begin to imagine”.
“Let me say this,” Obama said. “No one, no one, has given more for our freedom and our security than our gold star families [those whose family members died in service]. Michelle and I have spent countless hours with them. We have grieved with them.”
“Let me say something else about this generation,” Obama continued to hammer away at the topic. “As commander-in-chief, I’m pretty tired of some folks trash-talking America’s military and troops.”
“There’s a reason why last week in Philadelphia I was humbled to be introduced by Sharon Belkofer from Ohio, a Gold Star mom whose son, Tom, a lieutenant colonel in the Army, gave his life in Afghanistan,” Obama said, referencing his speech at the Democratic National Convention (A parent receives a Gold Star designation when their child is killed in combat). “I requested Sharon to introduce me, because I understood that our Gold Star families have made a sacrifice that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. They represent the very best of our country. They continue to inspire us every day, every moment. They serve as a powerful reminder of the true strength of America.”
Under his administration, Obama boasted, the government has dramatically increased funding for the Veterans hospitals across the country, has reduced unnecessary bureaucracy that created long waiting times to get medical treatment, and devoted more resources and training for veterans so that they can get better acclimated into society once they leave the military.
Obama also touched briefly upon the fact that his administration has worked hard to reduce homelessness among American veterans and called upon Americans to treat returning servicemen the upmost respect. He singled out the Vietnam War veterans whom Obama angrily said they should have been given a much better reception once they came back home, which got a thunderous applause.
“To all of you who served in Iraq, we saw your heroism in pushing out a dictator – whose brutality must be condemned, never praised – in defeating an insurgency, in giving the Iraqi people a chance,” Obama said. “And no matter what has happened since, your valor in the deserts, in fierce urban combat, will be honored in the annals of military history.”