Medal of Honor Recipient Silences Critics of Trump's 'Salute to America'


President Trump is doing July Fourth in Washington, D.C., in a big way — and that has a lot of people furious.

It costs too much. Too much is being closed. There’s too much military hardware involved. Presidents shouldn’t speak at July Fourth events.

In an appearance on Fox News, a recipient of the Medal of Honor noted the one thing that few, if any, in the media do: Trump’s “Salute to America” is an opportunity to say “thank you” to the men and women who have served this country.

“I think it’s great,” Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry, who received the Medal of Honor in 2011, told “Fox & Friends First” on Wednesday.

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“I think about our Vietnam veterans, who went and fought an unpopular war and came back to an ungrateful country. And I look at it as, our president is doing this to recognize the sacrifices” of service members past and present.

“So, thank you, President Trump, for honoring all of our veterans.”

When asked about the price tag of the event, Petry noted the cost he had paid by holding up his arm, part of which he’d lost as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.

“The cost to me was worth it for all of our American citizens, so when it comes to thanking our veterans and doing the right thing, the cost is worth it to me. It should be to everyone else,” he said.

Do you plan on watching the "Salute to America?"

The latest controversy over the cost is $2.5 million diverted from the National Park Service to cover the event’s price, but there’s plenty of other outrage to go around.

You can pretty much throw a dart and hit an article with something negative to say about the event. Take this bit of objective journalism from CBS News: “The National Park Service said on Tuesday it was still waiting for the run of show from the White House — proof this is a show, one stage-managed by the president down to the placement of tanks and infantry vehicles and the sequence of military flyovers, reports CBS News’ Major Garrett. The Fourth of July is typically nonpartisan and a tribute to America’s founding documents and self-government.”

That last sentence is a bit of a rough argument to make when dealing with an event that has always included fireworks. How exactly are those “a tribute to America’s founding documents and self-government?”

Even NPR, not necessarily given to hand-wringing over budgetary issues, worried about the cost to the American taxpayer. I can think of one easy way to defray it.

As for the cost, well, Petry is a man who lost his arm in 2008 when he picked up a live grenade; he lost part of his arm, but he saved lives by throwing it back.

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He didn’t pay the ultimate cost in terms of his life, but he’s certainly a testament to the idea that freedom isn’t free. So are the 20.4 million veterans estimated to be in the United States as of 2016.

The idea that a military flyover and tanks on the National Mall turns the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., into “a combination Trump rally and Kim Jong-un style military parade of hardware” which is “obscene,” as The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson called it, is a study in deliberate overstatement about the value of understatement.

Apparently, understatement is the best way to celebrate the most patriotic day on the calendar for Americans — which is why we’ve had massive fireworks displays in most of America’s big cities on Independence Day since time immemorial.

Trump just likes doing things a bit bigger, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone at this point.

July Fourth is a day where we do many things, including thanking our veterans for their service to our country. The “Salute to America” is one way to do it, and to do it in a major way.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture