To the editor: Retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, attempted to explain what President Trump meant when he spoke to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson. (“John Kelly, who lost a son in combat, gives an emotional defense of Trump's calls to military families,” Oct. 19)
Over these many months, I have heard too many members of the present administration try to explain what the president meant after he had spoken publicly.
I was a middle school teacher for 31 years and am proud to say that I have received numerous kudos for the way I did my job. Can you imagine the scenario if my principal had to come into my classroom day after day to explain to my students what I had actually said or meant to say?
How this same scenario can be considered acceptable today when our president speaks is beyond me. How long would I have been allowed to keep my job?
Linda Lambert, Ojai
To the editor: Like Kelly, I am also surprised by the criticism of Trump’s message to a grieving widow. Not everyone thinks it is insensitive to tell the family of a slain soldier that “he knew what he signed up for.”
A childhood friend of mine and fellow Marine, 1st Lt. Lee Roy Herron, died heroically in Vietnam, receiving the Navy Cross posthumously. When I first visited with his mother to express my condolences, she immediately told me that he had died doing what he wanted — fighting for our country. It was apparent to me that knowing this was her greatest consolation.
Trump should not be maligned over so-called insensitivity in his statements. His message may not be much consolation right now to a grieving widow, but she rightfully can be proud that the president expressed that sentiment to her.
David Nelson, Houston
To the editor: While I applaud Kelly for trying to help Trump say the right thing to Gold Star families, there is a big difference between a decorated Marine Corps general saying that a fallen soldier “knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%” and the same words coming from the mouth of someone who avoided military service because of bone spurs.
In this case, you can’t separate the message from the messenger.
Faith Morris, Laguna Niguel