It’s going to be a birthday to remember.
When President Donald Trump took the stage at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention on Tuesday in Kansas City, Missouri, he had national matters to discuss, but got one very personal request too.
And it was one he was happy to grant.
Trump’s VFW speech included a celebration of the Senate’s confirmation of new Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie (nine of the Senate’s most liberal Democrats voted against it, according to The Hill).
It also included a by now-standard denunciation of the “fake news.” (The audience booed at the mention of the mainstream media, according to Newsweek.)
The president also pushed for his immigration policies and plugged his tariff strategies to improve U.S. trade relationships internationally, according to Stars and Stripes.
But it was his moment with Sgt. Alan Jones, a 94-year-old World War II veteran from Pennsylvania, that really stood out.
After Trump invited Jones onto the stage, the nonagenarian launched into a short speech, remembering the past and an an older brother who was “lost off the coast of Italy” during the war.
He cited the present, where “my children are watching me today, hopefully, to know that their dad got to stand beside the president of the United States.”
And he talked about the future, specifically next April 11, when he will turn 95.
“Mr. President, I want to ask you something,” Jones said. “I have been told that I could never enter the Oval Office in Washington, D.C. I am going to be 95 years of age April 11 of next year. Hopefully, you will allow me to bring my family into the Oval Office to meet you?”
“Any time you want,” Trump replied, to a standing ovation from the audience.
Would any other president have responded that way? Probably. The optics, as political pros would say, more or less demanded it.
But no one watching that exchange, or the audience’s reaction, would doubt that Trump had a real connection with not only Young, but the men and women who were watching from the seats.
Even Trump critics have to admit the man seems to genuinely enjoy the aspect of his presidency that includes mingling with veterans – sticking up for veterans was a hallmark of his candidacy, and issues important to the military and military veterans have been a consistent theme of his presidency.
He highlighted it again with that VFW appearance on Tuesday, and with the birthday surprise he made for a 94-year-old veteran who will be turning 95 next April.
And it’s going to be a birthday to remember.
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