“Suckers” and “Losers”

My Uncle Jim served, and died, in the Korean War. I still have the telegram my grandmother received from the Army notifying her of his death, and the letter to her signed by President Harry Truman. I suspect he actually wrote and signed the letter himself as opposed to having it done by a signature machine. He was that kind of President. I also have the Purple Heart and the diploma that came with the letter.

More important to me than any of those official items is a postcard I found. Uncle Jim had written it only a few days before his death. It talked about how the weather that winter on top of the mountain where he was stationed was freezing and that he had caught a cold. But he told his family not to worry about him because he’d be okay. According to the Army’s telegram, Uncle Jim’s position with the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, was overrun by enemy troops and he was killed.

According to President Donald Trump, Uncle Jim was a sucker and a loser.

“I don’t get it,” said the President to his chief of staff, retired Marine general John Kelly, according to Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic (and now corroborated by numerous sources). “What’s in it for them?”

In the world of Donald Trump, life is one big game of Monopoly. You’re either the one winner left standing, or you’re one of the suckers and losers who were forced out of the game.

Why would anyone risk dying for this country?

I never had the opportunity to ask Uncle Jim for his views on the subject. He died a year before I was born, just a week shy of his 22nd birthday. My guess, though, is that he would have answered that question in a matter-of-fact sort of way. The way young Americans answered questions like that back then.

“Of course, I’m hoping I make it back here safe and sound,” he might have said. “But if I die, just know I did it for you all, my family. I mean, that’s what people do, right? Take care of their families and friends?”

Not according to our current President. Not if you’re holding the deeds to Boardwalk and Park Place, with expensive hotels erected on each one.

Only a sucker or a loser would roll the dice in his game.