Monday, April 24, 2017

Stolen Valor

His Trumpness seems to have no idea what the Purple Heart stands for.  When a veteran offered him a medal on the campaign trail, Trump loudly proclaimed he always wanted one.  It is hard to say what was going through the mind of Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman when he gave his medal to Trump.  Maybe he thought it was an easy way to score a photo opportunity.

If Trump so badly wanted a Purple Heart, he could have easily picked one up on ebay, as there are over 1,5 million in circulation.  These so-called "medal peddlers" have been doing a brisk trade ever since the Supreme Court rejected a ban on the sale of military medals in 2012.  Veteran Zach Fike has been trying to get the "Stolen Valor" ban reinstated ever since.  In the meantime, he buys back medals and tries to track down their original owners or their families.

The medal has a long history dating back to the Revolutionary War.  Hence, the silhouette of George Washington.  It is awarded to those who were injured during combat and to the families of those who were killed.

This past weekend Trump had a chance to make things right by awarding a Purple Heart to a wounded veteran, but foolishly congratulated the veteran.   While the medal is awarded in the name of the President. it is rare that a President actually awards veterans personally.  Usually this is reserved for the Medal of Honor.  But, I suppose Trump wanted to show he is a man of the people, looking for a photo opportunity of his own at Walter Reed Hospital.

What makes this odd is that Trump is literally surrounded by generals, who should coach their commander-in-chief on military protocol.  Yet, they turn a blind eye just like the conservative electorate that seems to value party affiliation over everything else.  You can bet there would have been hell to pay if Presidents Obama or Clinton had made such blunders.

Sadly, the Purple Heart has been reduced to little more than a trinket that can be handed away or sold depending on the whims of the recipient or his or her family.  Medal Peddler Scott Kraska defends his business by saying he keeps the medals in circulation, since he typically comes across them at garage sales.  Depending on their condition and pedigree he can sell them for as much as $395, but these medals typically go for around 30 or 40 dollars on the open market.

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