September 18, 2020

Op-Ed: Thoughts on ‘Suckers’ and ‘Losers’

“Suckers and Losers”?

I am outraged; and saddened. 

If you’ve paid any attention to the national news, you know that The Atlantic recently carried a report by editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, who cited sources who stated that the president canceled his visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018 because he believed the Marines who died in the battle of Belleau Wood during World War I were “suckers.” According to the report, Mr. Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” 

Mr. Trump lashed out at Goldberg, calling him a “slimeball,” adding that it was, “a fake story and a disgrace,” written by a magazine that probably was not going to be around much longer. He has made similar comments about the New York Times. Unbelievably, he went on to say (i.e., “Tweet”): “Steve Jobs would not be happy that his wife is wasting money he left her on a failing Radical Left Magazine that is run by a con man (Goldberg) and spews FAKE NEWS & HATE. Call her, write her, let her know how you feel!!!” Holy Cow … again, the specter of strong women?

Jeffrey Goldberg is a solid, well-respected journalist. The Atlantic began publication more than 150 years ago. The Atlantic’s founders include Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

The following are my memories, but relevant to how I’ve reacted to this reprehensible White House issue. These memories are special to me, but certainly not unique amongst American families. 

My father’s life was interrupted by some action in “harm’s way” in World War II and the Battle of the Bulge. He was a member of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”; my grandparents prayed, and he eventually came home. My Dad was neither a sucker nor a loser.  

I had a close friend growing up, who, when I left for University, made the decision to enlist in the Army. Killed in action, Gary John Shea’s name is engraved on Panel 61E Line 2 of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, DC. I have visited the Memorial and seen the engraving. His death was a tragedy. He was neither a sucker nor a loser.

Each of our military services has a creed, or oath, that provides a value structure by which our men and women live and serve. 

In Gary’s honor, I paraphrase the Soldier’s Creed: “I am an American Soldier. I serve the people of the United States. I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.” Does the White House know this? Deployment of the military at racial justice protests is not mentioned in the “Creed”, “even as photo op props.” 

I also served, but never in harm’s way. My active duty years were mostly at the Naval Hospital at NAS Pax River, MD. In my clinical capacity, I once had the terrible honor to examine the burned remains of a Naval aviator in order to officially confirm his identity. His A-4 Skyhawk had gone down. His death was a tragedy. He was neither a sucker nor a loser. 

The A-4 is the same aircraft flown by another Naval Aviator and an American hero, Senator John McCain. He was neither a sucker nor a loser.

My son and his wife are graduates of the Naval Academy.  Brendan served on fast attack nuclear submarines. He claims to have once seen the “bright lights” of Murmansk. Emily was involved in missile testing on surface vessels.

Having fulfilled his active duty service commitment, Brendan continues his relationship with the Navy, in his role at JHU’s Applied Physics Laboratory. He works closely with them to develop “strategies and systems that support our Sea Control Mission”.  

My son-in-law is a Royal Air Force squadron leader and recently completed a multi-year tour as RAF liaison officer to the USAF at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina. “Ruggy” has the dubious distinction, as a citizen of the United Kingdom, to have flown his USAF F-15E Strike Eagle over Syria and Iraq with the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It is a tradition to have an American flag in the cockpit for later presentation to family. We cherish that flag.

Brendan, Emily, and Ruggy are intelligent and honorable leaders and warriors, who have served to defend the United States. They are neither suckers nor losers.

I despair at the utter callousness and disrespect exhibited by a Commander-in-Chief who sees fit to use descriptors like “suckers and losers” as a means of insulting those who served in our military. 

Editor Goldberg had received some criticism for not naming his sources, although the Associated Press has corroborated the report. 

However, the history of disparaging rhetoric that has emanated from Mr. Trump, alone gives credibility to The Atlantic report. I will not bother to cite all of his words and the times that this president has made degrading, and insulting remarks about the military and its leadership.

However, the names that come to my mind include Alexander Vindman, John McCain, Generals Mattis, McMaster, and, just recently, Kelly. His words and feelings are clear.  To the best of my knowledge, nobody in the Trump family has served, which amazes me. Consequently, he has absolutely no reference point on the role or concerns of family who support our men and women, who may serve in harm’s way. How did my daughter, Erin, feel when Ruggy was flying over Iraq and Syria? How did my wife handle Brendan’s undersea deployments during silent periods? 

I have to wonder: “Where are his close advisors?” 

The VP has not served in the military, although his father served in Korea, and his son with the Marines. Mike Pompeo is a graduate of West Point and has served as an Army officer.

Why won’t you guys ask this president to cease his reprehensible insults?

God save the United States of America!

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka, who is a resident of Old Lyme.

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Comments

  1. Mary Jo Nosal says

    Good question Tom, why?
    The Lymes’ Senior Center, under the fine direction of Stephanie Gould, annually honors our service men and women, and their families. It is a moving ceremony and well attended. These are patriots by definition.

  2. William Folland says

    This sounds more like a paid political add for the democrats
    . I thought that there was an editorial review of what gets published in this online newspaper. Guess our real colors come out during election season.

  3. Thomas Gotowka says

    To Whom it May Concern: I want to assure anyone who has read my “Thoughts on Suckers and Losers”, published in Lymeline on September 8, that the piece was not “a paid political ‘add’ for the ‘democrats’”.
    I can also assure any of you who may question the presence of “an editorial review of what gets published in this online newspaper”, that Madam Editor wields the digital equivalent of a sharp red pencil with thought and impunity. I was expressing my concern and indignation of a commander-in-chief who uses descriptors like “suckers and losers” for those who served and/or died for our country.
    My personal and family experiences were used only to illustrate the basis for my opinion. As always, God save the United States of America.

  4. I completely agree with Tom and it was noteworthy for him to mention so many friends and family members (including himself!) who have served in the military. Our “Commander-in -Chief” continues to be anything BUT! He is such a disgrace to our country and everything it stands for.
    Thanks for writing this article…

  5. William Folland says

    The article in question published in the Atlantic magazine states that the acquisitions of Trump’s statements come from several anonymous sources. For this editorial to be published without that fact included is nothing short of properganda by biased individuals.

    • Thomas Gotowka says

      BF: I can honestly say that the term “properganda” holds no place in my lexicon. However, you have also suggested that I ignored that the Atlantic did specify that “Trump’s statements come from several anonymous sources”. That is untrue; and I refer you to the section that begins: “Editor Goldberg had received some criticism for not naming his sources”.
      Regardless, “I despair at the utter callousness and disrespect exhibited by a Commander-in-Chief who sees fit to use descriptors like “suckers and losers” as a means of insulting those who served in our military”.
      Madam Editor, let us now put this OP-Ed to bed.

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