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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dan Rather on Trump’s lies about calls to war widows

Trump does not understand basic human empathy
I have covered many presidents and many wars. Some of these wars were just and others not.

All wars are bloody and full of pain, but some of the conflicts were mismanaged, leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Despite all of this, I do not know of any president who did not at his core feel the solemn burden of young Americans dying in service to country.

But now we have a Commander in Chief who many feel does not understand this most basic human empathy.

President Donald Trump's assertions - more accurately his lies - about whether or not his predecessors, particularly President Obama, called or  wrote to the families of the fallen has rightly been broadly condemned for its mendacity and insincerity.

It should not be surprising coming from a man who mocked a war hero, John McCain, and attacked a gold star family, the parents of slain United States Army Captain Humayun Khan.

I cannot see into President Trump's heart. Nor can I measure his motives.

But we can see that one of the most solemn roles of the office of the presidency has once again been subjected to his instinct for bombast, obfuscation, and self-congratulatory denialism.

Rather than focus on the words of the present I choose to pay homage to those who have died in America's wars by sharing a poem by the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Archibald MacLeish who saw service in World War I.

The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
Remember us.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.