Friday, September 04, 2020

Patriotic Duty


In his article in The Atlantic, we learned further details from editor Jeffrey Goldberg about the president whom we knew believed everything in life is transactional and that American soldiers, past and present, are "losers" and "suckers." In only one of the instances noted by Goldberg

On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House. He was accompanied on this visit by John Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security, and who would, a short time later, be named the White House chief of staff. The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members. But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices.


 Nonetheless, the tweeter noted above contends John Kelly is a bigot, signed off on separating children from their parents, and that we must not forget that.

He is, he did, and we shouldn't.

John Kelly loyally served a man who did not deserve to be loyally served. In his controversial tenure as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and White House Chief of Staff. he was not a paragon of tolerance nor a beacon for a pluralistic society.  He was not a paragon of tolerance nor a beacon for a pluralistic society.

Nevertheless, John Kelly has been presented with what many Americans never get: a second chance. He served his country in civilian capacities in the federal government and courageously in the armed forces.

John Kelly now can compensate for  being "a bigot who signed off on locking up children away from their parents" or for  simply offering a little legitimacy to an evil President. He can make amends, atone for past errors, or in the manner of the Catholicism in which he was reared, do penance.

The White House has claimed that the Goldberg piece is fiction, though a ludicrous claim, one that would benefit from at least one of its anonymous sources dropping his anonymity.   General Kelly could publicly confirm the details as they apply to him. He could further explain that the behavior ascribed to the President was characteristic of the man he served as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and as Chief of Staff. And he could endorse Joe Biden's effort to unseat that President.

In early 2017, Kelly stated "If lawmakers do not like the laws they've passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines." Lucky him. John Kelly now has the opportunity simultaneously to exhibit courage and support the men and women on the front lines. It's a two-fer. If he does- and only if he does- he will exhibit the courage he once demanded of members of Congress and perform a patriotic duty beyond any he ever has.


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