For many of us who wore our nation’s uniform, Memorial Day is much more than a day for picnics.

As we recall the faces, the voices and the experiences we shared with our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us, the unofficial beginning of summer, with all its promise of backyard fun, has a somber side.

Some of those we remember paid the ultimate sacrifice in combat, but far too many others lost their lives from the physical and psychological scars that took place in service to our great nation. Their service, and the sacrifices of their families, must be remembered with respect and gratitude on Memorial Day.

Earlier this week I had the honor of attending a ceremony in New Hampshire, where President Biden reiterated his commitment to support veterans. As the father of a soldier, Biden has personally felt the anxiety, fear and longing that families endure when their loved ones are far away in dangerous places. His administration’s implementation of the PACT Act, which provides medical services to veterans exposed to toxic fumes, is an example of his enduring commitment to veterans and their families.

As we approach the November elections, I hope voters consider the candidates’ commitment to those who have served and sacrificed for our nation. President Biden and his family’s commitment to the military community is clear.

On the other hand, former President Donald Trump claims that he supports veterans, but his words ring hollow in contrast to his disrespect for those who have served and sacrificed.


When he denigrated the years of torture and deprivation that Sen. John McCain endured in the prisons of Hanoi by claiming, “I like people who weren’t captured,” he lost my respect. When Gen. John Kelly, former White House Chief of Staff and the father of a fallen soldier, reported that Trump referred to military casualties as “suckers” and “losers,” I questioned his fitness to be our commander in chief.

But it was Trump’s accusation of Gen. Mark Milley, a former colleague and distinguished warrior, of “treason” in which “the punishment would have been DEATH!” that made me realize that the former president’s reelection posed a real danger to our democracy.

The events of Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob attempted to disrupt and hijack by force the actions of our government, were a shocking wake-up call: American democracy is a fragile thing. The courts will ultimately decide the level of responsibility that Trump bears for the incitement of the insurrection that occurred on that day. But it is clear that Trump’s reckless rhetoric played some part in igniting the passions of the mob that later assaulted Capitol police officers and desecrated the halls of Congress.

It is also clear that Trump, who as president swore an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” failed to act to defend the implementation of the Constitution for over three hours after the initial assault on the Capitol.

On this Memorial Day I remember the faces, the voices, and the names of those with whom I served who are no longer with us. They are my brothers and sisters because we shared many things. But the deepest bond may be the oath we all swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic.”

Many of my fallen brothers and sisters gave their lives in service to that oath in faraway lands. On May 27, I will offer my prayers for their eternal rest, and I will salute their service and sacrifice to our great nation. On Election Day, I will vote to keep faith with them and our shared commitment to the Constitution.

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