My Turn: As a Gold Star Mother, I reject Trump and leaders who support him

  • Mourners walk past a picture of Army Sgt. Russell M. Durgin of Henniker on June 24, 2006. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 8/4/2016 12:20:08 AM

On June 13, 2006, my son Sgt. Russell Durgin had his life cut short at the age of 23 in Afghanistan while fighting to defend our nation and the values we hold dear.

Russell was a carefree and brave young man whose memory continues to be with me each and every day.

Russell sacrificed everything for our nation, and that sacrifice deserves the respect of all Americans.

It is with a heavy heart that I understand the pain of fellow Gold Star families, like Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who died in Iraq while trying to save his fellow soldiers. The bonds we share as parents of fallen soldiers cannot be understated, and I share in their grief.

Sadly, in what has become the latest example of reckless and unacceptable behavior, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has now gone so far as to attack the Khan family as one of his top New Hampshire advisers, Al Baldasaro, joins in his disgusting attacks.

Trump’s attacks on the Khan family are attacks on all military leaders, prisoners of war and Gold Star families, and they have once again made clear that he is unfit to be president.

Trump’s words are deeply damaging to the veterans who have sacrificed for our country, who have gone to war and come back with wounds both visible and invisible.

His comments show a disrespect and lack of basic human decency that should disqualify him – and those who continue to support him – from office.

Over the past few days, following Trump’s disgusting comments, I have received numerous calls from friends and neighbors, checking in to see how our family is doing with this terrible rhetoric now becoming a national conversation.

While I am grateful for the outpouring of support, the fact that my friends and relatives feel compelled to take this step is a sad reflection on the vileness that Trump has brought into our political process.

And as the mother of another brave son, Sean, who is serving now, it terrifies me to think that this unstable and cruel man would make decisions about sending my son into war zones.

All of our political leaders have a moral responsibility to stand up to Trump and make clear that his actions are not befitting of any American, let alone someone running to be commander in chief. Our leaders, regardless of their political party, should send the message that it is unacceptable to support someone for president who would attack the family members of fallen soldiers.

While Sen. Kelly Ayotte released a statement distancing herself from Trump’s comments, I’m deeply disappointed that she continues to support Trump for president.

These are not ordinary times, and Donald Trump is no ordinary candidate.

In the face of a candidate who has repeatedly shown himself to be so unworthy and unfit for the presidency, we need elected representatives who will work to defeat the grave threat to our nation that is Donald Trump – not just try to separate themselves from some of his most odious statements.

I do not consider myself a political person, and the question of whether to support Trump is not a political question. It is a moral one. The answer to which will determine what kind of future we want to build not only for ourselves, but for our young people.

Given the dangerous filth that comes out of Trump’s mouth on a daily basis, we must all seriously question the judgment of any elected representative who continues to support Trump – including Sen. Ayotte. It’s as simple as that.

Gold Star families and all Granite Staters expect and deserve better than this. We deserve leaders who will stand up to the outrageous rhetoric of Donald Trump and not cast their vote for him to be president of the United States.

This November, we will not only reject Trump, we will also reject those who have stood by him.

(Jean Durgin lives in Henniker.)

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