Over the past 25 years at this post, I have been blessed to tell the stories of many veterans, both at war and after. Many became dear friends. Some are gone. Others remain. All deserve our thanks, love and respect every day of the year.
Genuine thanks, love and respect is not saying one thing and doing another. Today, soon-to-be ex-President Donald Trump made his first public appearance in days to attend a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve attended a few funerals there. It is truly America’s most sacred ground.
Trump was there for fewer than 10 minutes. it is the only public appearance on his schedule today. He has the whole afternoon to rage-tweet about getting kicked in the bone spurs by a democratic process he and his Republican accomplices view with naked, no-depth-unplumbed contempt.
President-elect Joe Biden and soon-to-be First Lady Jill Biden laid a wreath at the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial. For a brief moment, the election was sidelined by a remembrance of the men and women and families who sacrificed and continue to put the common good above personal goals and interests.
Both ceremonies were mercifully short and gloriously quiet. That is where the similarities end.
Trump laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while his campaign lawyers fought to bury thousands of mail-in ballots cast by active-duty military and their spouses. To serve his baseless, shameless un-American claims of voter fraud, Trump is willing to disenfranchise men and women willing to lay their lives on the line to protect and defend the world’s oldest democracy.
Last week, Trump tweeted what became a daily refrain:
“ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!”
Aside from being illegal in most states, this would automatically disenfranchise thousands of mail-in ballots cast by active-duty military and their spouses serving overseas. By Pennsylvania law, military ballots may be received until Nov. 10 — a full week after the election.
ONE MORE TIME FOR THE RECORD: NO VOTE POSTMARKED AFTER ELECTION DAY WAS OR WILL BE COUNTED.
This includes the military ballots Team Trump is trying to bury. Maybe he’s heard they’re breaking 4-to-1 for Biden in Pennsylvania, where it’s mathematically impossible for Trump to surpass the president-elect’s lead. Maybe the GOP’s reputation for holding sacred the military and what it stands for is as empty, cynical and self-serving as Trump’s campaign to overturn the election. Maybe more and more military families caught on to the con, and more will follow.
No Maybe about this: Our veterans and military voters and their spouses and families deserve better. There was a time when Republicans weren’t afraid to stand up and say so.