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Why Trump's Military Comments Are Actually a Good Thing

This is not an article about whether or not you should vote for Donald Trump. This is not an article about whether or not you should vote for Hillary Clinton. This is not an article about whether or not any given military family brought any given attention on themselves.

This article assumes one thing: that you believe Gold Star families and Purple Heart recipients are worthy of respect.

Unless you live under some kind of rock, you've probably heard about Trump's two big military-related comments over the past week or so. First, he caused a firestorm of public outrage from many Gold Star families and military service organizations when he criticized the actions of a pair of Gold Star Parents. Here's how the AP characterizes what happened.

"Trump has been engaged in an emotionally charged feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomber on June 8, 2004. Trump stoked outrage by implying that Ghazala Khan did not speak while standing alongside her husband at last week's Democratic convention because of their Muslim faith. And he disputed their right to question his grasp of the Constitution."
Then, after being gifted a Purple Heart from a veteran at a rally, he said "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”

In response to his comments, social media was flooded by photos from wounded and injured service members of when they received their Purple Hearts for injuries sustained during military service.

So why are an "emotionally charged feud" with a Gold Star family and a confusing comment about war injuries good things?

Public awareness. 

While I would very, very much prefer that the U.S. public could just know without controversy what a "Gold Star family" is or what the Purple Heart is and means, they don't.

And so the silver lining -- the actual good part -- of all of this, is that now they might. When they hear "Gold Star family" maybe they'll know that those words mean sacrifice, loss, grief, hurt ... and respect. When they hear "Purple Heart" maybe they'll remember that the wounded received that designation because they put themselves in harm's way.

Maybe, just maybe, they'll think of Silvia Buoniconti, whose son Frank was killed in a helicopter collision in 2011. And they'll know that being a Gold Star family member or a wounded service member isn't always about politics. It's about sacrifice -- and America's reaction should only be one of respect and acknowledgement, just like Silvia says in this interview.

'"If you see a Gold Star pin, say 'Hi' and let us talk about our kids. You may see a tear here or there. As long as someone remembers, they're not really gone."

"Thank you for your service" for our wounded or "I'm sorry for you loss," for our Gold Star families works, too. And they are never the wrong things to say.

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