My grandfather served in the United States Army during World War II, and was very fortunate to make it home to his family alive. Many of his comrades in arms were not so fortunate and lost their lives fighting for this great country that we are so fortunate to call home. They fought for our freedom and this is the most important duty a man or woman can be called upon to undertake. There are many aspects to our free society — freedom of the press, our judicial system and our right to free speech are just a few of our unalienable rights that make the U.S. the greatest country in the world. Unfortunately, all of these institutions have been relentlessly attacked by Donald Trump. These are the principles that my grandfather fought for as he saw his brothers bleed and die in a foreign land, far from the people they loved, in order to preserve our freedom.
I must ask myself why a man who chose not to serve his country when called upon during a time of war, and actively tried and succeeded in dodging his duty as an American during the Vietnam War, is now sitting in the Oval Office. It is well documented that Donald Trump received multiple deferments, one claiming that he had a bone spur in his feet — which was a common practice among draft dodgers, with the sole purpose of avoiding a draft that saw many thousands of good men fight in a war that ended their young lives, before they were able to get married and have families of their own, and truly experience the American Dream.
Many of these men who fought and died in Vietnam were of a lower economic status than Donald Trump and many other draft dodgers, who were able to avoid the draft simply because they had the economic background to do so. These people were able to buy their way out of fighting in Vietnam as long as they had the resources to persuade the U.S. government into believing that they were more important than the soldier who was born into a low income family or even a middle income family.
It is no secret that Donald Trump was born into a wealthy family. He is certainly not a self-made millionaire. He has lived a life of privilege from the day he was born. He has always been shielded by his wealthy family and his highly paid lawyers. Many of the acts committed by him before and after he took office would result in a substantial prison sentence if they were committed by a man who was drafted to fight in a war because of his lower economic status. What is even more apprehensible is the fact that after he succeeded in avoiding the draft multiple times, he went on to attack good people who did fight for our freedom, only because they do not agree with him. I need only to point to the Gold Star families who have been attacked by him after losing their loved ones in battle. What gives this man the right to pass judgment on anybody, especially those good people who have lost a family member who died fighting for our country?
Donald Trump has also verbally attacked a good man named John McCain, who hails from the state of Arizona. McCain fought and nearly died fighting for our country, yet Trump said on national television that McCain is not a hero because he was captured by the enemy. I would like to take this opportunity to remind Trump that there are many good soldiers who have been captured by the enemy and were never heard from again. Every one of these soldiers will always be American heroes.
• Ian Martin lives in Juneau.