During a rally in Ashburn, Virginia, Donald Trump joked about how easy it was for him to become the owner of a Purple Heart. A veteran gave his own Purple Heart medal to Trump shortly before the GOP nominee took the stage at the event, and Trump proudly showed off the gift to the crowd.
Even though Trump received five deferments exempting him from serving in the military during the Vietnam War, he told the crowd that he has always wanted to receive a Purple Heart. The medal is awarded to military men and women wounded or killed in the line of combat. According to ABC News, Donald Trump said that the veteran who gifted him with his Purple Heart did so as a show of support for the presidential hopeful.
“He said, ‘That’s my real Purple Heart. I have such confidence in you.’ And I said, ‘Man, that’s, like, that’s, like, big stuff.’ I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier,” Trump told the crowd.
— POLITICO (@politico) August 2, 2016
Donald Trump’s joke about finding an easy way to get a Purple Heart comes just one day after the New York Times published a report about his five Vietnam War draft deferments. Trump received four education deferments and one medical deferment for bone spurs in his heels.
Some men and women who actually have served with the military were not amused by Donald Trump’s joke. Purple Heart recipient Sean Barney, an Iraq war veteran who is running for Congress in Delaware, responded to Trump’s comments on Facebook, writing that “no one should ever ‘want” to get a Purple Heart.”
A spokesman for the Military Order of the Purple Heart also responded to Trump’s comments, telling CBS Radio News correspondent Steven Portnoy that “Trump did not get the Purple Heart, and there’s no ‘easy way’ to get it.”
“I don’t think he has any clue as to the meaning of the Purple Heart medal,” spokesman John Bircher says of Trump. https://t.co/kuOSdKGS0e
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) August 2, 2016
NBC News correspondent Katy Tur tweeted that the veteran who gave the Purple Heart medal to Trump informed her that it was just a replica. However, the man reportedly told ABC News‘ Tom Llamas that it was the real deal, and he gave it to Trump “in part because of the attacks Trump has received in the wake of the Khan speech.”
Many Twitter users pointed out that U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan received a Purple Heart medal posthumously for his military service. The deceased Muslim officer’s father, Khizr Khan, got under Donald Trump’s skin after giving one of most talked about speeches at the Democratic National Convention. During his scathing critique of the GOP candidate, Khan responded to Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and his proposed Muslim ban by talking about how his son sacrificed his life to save those of his fellow soldiers. Khan pointed out that Trump has “sacrificed nothing and no one” for his country.
The Khan family receiving their sons Purple Heart in 2004. Thank you, Capt. Humayun Khan. Thank you, Khan family. pic.twitter.com/JszDvtRoSH
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) August 2, 2016
Trump caused outrage when he responded to Khan’s speech about his son’s death by arguing that his successes — the jobs he has created and the buildings he has built — count as similar sacrifices. During an interview with ABC News correspondent George Stephanopoulos, Trump also suggested that Khizr Khan’s wife Ghazala did not speak at the DNC because her religion prohibited her from doing so. She later said that she stood silently beside her husband because talking about the death of her son causes her too much pain.
According to CNN, some Gold Star family members and veterans groups have harshly criticized Donald Trump’s treatment of the Khans.
“Giving one’s life to nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard,” said Brian Duffy, the commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
A group of Gold Star families also issued a statement calling Donald Trump’s comments about the Khan family “repugnant and personally offensive” to them.
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]