The following is an opinion column written by U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Stock:
In April 2007, I received the phone call that every faculty member at the United States Military Academy at West Point dreads. One of my former students, a prior enlisted soldier and paratrooper who had graduated from USMA and ultimately risen to the rank of first lieutenant, had died while fighting insurgents in Iraq. His parents asked me to give the eulogy at his funeral, and I shared my memories of their son. The family wanted to bury their fallen soldier in the place that he loved, and his funeral was held at West Point. He was buried next to other members of the Long Gray Line. I visit his grave and pray whenever I am back at West Point.
My former student’s mother became a Gold Star mother that day in April 2007. This was almost three years after another Army officer, Captain Humayun Khan, had died in combat in Iraq. Captain Khan displayed exceptional courage and ordered his men to safety. He went alone to investigate the truck that exploded and ended his life.
Captain Khan’s mother, Ghazala Khan, also had become a Gold Star mother when her son died. At that point in the war, there had been hundreds of Gold Star mothers and there would be more to come. A Gold Star mother is a mother whose son or daughter has died in military service. Gold Star families may fly special flags with gold stars to let others know of their loved ones’ sacrifices. Gold Star mothers often grieve quietly, because it can be very, very difficult to speak publicly about the loss of a son or daughter in combat.
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President of the United States, never volunteered for service in the military. Trump managed to avoid the military draft during the Vietnam War by claiming to be unfit to serve. None of his children have served. Trump has no idea what it is to be the parent of a son or daughter who serves this nation in uniform, and certainly he has no idea what it is to be a Gold Star parent.
And yet, Trump has speculated that Ghazala Khan was somehow prevented from speaking at the Democratic Convention and claimed that his alleged “job creation” is somehow equivalent to the sacrifice of a Gold Star mother: “I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” he said, “employing thousands and thousands of people.” His comments should disqualify him from being president. A nominee who disparages a Gold Star mother for her silent grief is unfit to be the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces.
Many American leaders on both sides of the aisle have condemned Trump’s remarks. But few in the Republican Party have had the courage to announce publicly that they are withdrawing their endorsements of Trump. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, when asked about his candidacy, stated that she has “always supported the Republican nominee for president.”
Sen. Murkowski said that many of Trump’s statements are “troubling,” yet she still apparently plans to support him in his quest to become the commander-in- chief.
Alaska has a very high percentage of military families. Many Alaskans are Gold Star family members or know Gold Star family members. Gold Star parents deserve our honor and respect for the sacrifices their families have made.
In keeping with our values as Alaskans and Americans, I hope that Lisa Murkowski joins me in saying loud and clear, “Donald Trump is unfit to be President of the United States.”