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Who is the real ‘sucker’ and ‘loser’?

By Mike Leatherwood • Guest Columnist | When I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers in 1963, I took this oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The President of the United States takes almost the same oath with the words: “I will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” A multitude of reasons come to mind as to how President Trump has violated this oath — and the recent revelations of his referring to our military men and women as “losers” and “suckers” leaves me shaking my head at such callous and apathetic remarks from the commander-in-chief.

The general usage of “loser” is couched in terms like: “The basketball team members were sad losers;” “Retirees were losers in the budget cuts;” “The young man was a loser in the pie-eating contest;” We say he or she was a graceful loser or a poor loser.

Likewise, the term “suckers” is thusly referenced: “A plant produces suckers;” “It’s a lollipop;” “A pipe or tube through which a fluid is drawn by suction;” “I am a sucker for chocolate cake!” “A gullible or easily deceived person.”

In no shape or form do these phrases define the dedication, character, courage, or sacrifice of members of our military forces; to wear the uniform is not to become a “loser” or a “sucker” but to define courageous commitment to a cause greater than self. My platoon sergeant, who was killed in an ambush in Vietnam, was not a loser! A friend in the armored battalion, who was killed when he stepped on a mine, was not a sucker!  The young private, killed when his helmet fell onto a mine he was attempting to defuse, was not a loser or sucker! The young lieutenant in my engineer battalion, killed by a sniper, was not a loser! None of them wanted the Vietnam War; none of them refused to go; none of them were derelict in their duty.

In the recent article in The Atlantic, these disconcerting words appear: “Trump rejected the idea of the visit (to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, where 1,800 marines died in World War I) because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead.” Also, in the same article, Trump stated: “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers ... and they are suckers for getting killed.” What? The commander-in-chief said what? Looks like we see the real “sucker” and “loser” in his attitude of callous disrespect for our dead marines and in his priority of protecting his hair!

Mary Trump, the President’s niece, describes her uncle in her book this way: “Donald today is much as he was at three years old: incapable of growing, learning, or evolving, unable to regulate his emotions, moderate his responses, or take in and synthesize information.... His cruelty serves, in part, as a means to distract both us and himself from the true extent of his failures.... His cruelty is also an exercise of his power, such as it is. He has always wielded it against people who are weaker than he is.”

“While thousands of Americans die alone {COVID}, Donald touts stock market gains. As my father lay dying alone, Donald went to the movies. If he can in any way profit from your death, he’ll facilitate it, and then he’ll ignore the fact that you died.”

And, if you are an American killed in combat, he will say you are a sucker for getting killed. What a callous, apathetic, heartless, insensitive attitude toward a human death — even more appalling in the context of our military! When I see a man who said upon hearing of Sen. McCain’s death (a valiant naval pilot who was a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam), “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” I perceive only one loser in the overarching scheme of this hostile and cruel presidential environment — Trump, Trump! I identify only one sucker here who Mary Trump affirms: “... lying, playing to the lowest common denominator, cheating, and sowing division are all he knows. He is as incapable of adjusting to changing circumstances as he is of becoming ‘presidential.’”

Yes, my empathy, rapport, and grief for men and women in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air force, Coast Guard, and National Guard, are jolted and shaken when I hear the president refer to military deaths as losers and suckers. I denounce such references with my entire being and pray that somehow God’s transforming love will help Trump to understand that each life is sacred and there are no losers or suckers in His Kingdom.

Yet, as Mary Trump also writes: “The lies may become true in his mind as soon as he utters them, but they’re still lies. It’s just another way for him to see what he can get away with. And so far, he’s gotten away with everything.”

(Mike Leatherwood is a native of Waynesville, a veteran of Vietnam, a retired clergy, and a concerned citizen.).

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