Donald Trump chose to skip a profoundly significant ceremony this past weekend at an American cemetery in France to commemorate a World War I battle.
He sent White House chief of staff John Kelly and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford to stand in the rain, something the president declined to do.
The event was part of a weekend commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Trump managed to bungle and blunder his way through the weekend, isolating himself and the nation he leads from key allies.
But, back to the point.
The WWI battle took place in Belleau Wood, an event that is sacred in the minds of U.S. Marines. It was the first fight that sent Marines to fight a foreign enemy force. They fought valiantly and brilliantly against the German forces at Belleau Wood. The cemetery where the Marines are buried is sacred ground anyway, but it especially so to Marines.
Kelly is a retired Marine general; Joseph Dunford is an active-duty Marine general. I am wondering how these two men must have felt when they got word that the commander in chief had declined to attend the event because of reported “logistical” concerns created by the weather. The White House cooked up some pretext about Marine One, the presidential helicopter, being unable to fly in rainy conditions. The president could have driven to the ceremony. He chose to send Kelly and Dunford instead.
I would feel sympathy for Kelly in particular, except that he chose to sign on as chief of staff presumably knowing he would be working for someone who is prone to toss traditional customs aside. The president managed to disparage the Marine Corps with his no-show at a solemn event.
He also continues to shred the reputation of his chief of staff.