Robinson students react to recent Trump statement
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On Wednesday, October 18, news broke that United States President Donald Trump had called the family of a fallen U.S. soldier and told the widow that “he knew what he signed up for”. Trump never mentioned the soldier’s name.
Sgt. La David Johnson was his name. He was 25, and he died in Niger during an ambush. He left behind a two year old, a six year old and a wife who is six months pregnant. His body was returned to the Miami airport on October 17, where his grieving widow met to collect the remains.
The phone call has created national controversy, with many people, including Robinson students, saying that what Trump said was disrespectful. Trump has denied the controversy, claiming that he never said those words, and that he spoke Johnson’s name from the beginning.
Trump has repeatedly valued the respect of soldiers, even going so far as to say that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful. Now that light has been shed on the phone call, he seemed to have contradicted himself with his conversation with Johnson’s widow.
Trump’s call affects everyone, not just the family of Johnson. Robinson is a very military-oriented school, with so many students with parents in the military, and many students in the NJROTC program. How Trump responded to the death of Johnson directly shows how he views the fallen soldiers of the US military, which can hit too close to home for some students.
“The phone call was supposed to be a gesture of kindness,” Logan Perdigon (’18), a member of the NJROTC program said. “I believe [Trump] does care about each branch of the military, but that his comments were ignorant.”
Trump hasn’t issued an apology yet, and John Kelly, his chief of staff, has confirmed that Trump did indeed say that “[Johnson] knew what he signed up for.”
As a part of a military family, Anastasia McIlovy (’21) was able to form her own opinion. “I think that President Trump was unnecessarily blunt to a wife who had just lost her husband,” McIlovy said. “I believe his behavior was childlike by not taking responsibility for the hurt he may have caused his wife and by not simply apologizing.”
Johnson deserved respect that some believe he did not receive. His wife and children are left to carry on his legacy. Johnson was buried on Saturday morning in a closed-casket.
Despite the controversy, Americans are truly saddened by the loss of a selfless soldier. And Robinson, especially being so close to MacDill Air Force Base, is truly saddened as well.