SALEM, Mass. (AP) — Two Gold Star families criticized disparaging remarks President Donald Trump allegedly made about veterans and those serving in the military while recalling the memories of their sons Thursday.
The families of Pfc. John Hart and Lance Cpl. Travis Desiato — both Bedford natives who were killed serving in Iraq — spoke out in front of the Hart-Desiato Bridge, which was dedicated in honor of the two in 2018.
Trump has fought allegations he made offensive comments about fallen U.S. service-members, including calling World War I dead at an American military cemetery in France “losers” and “suckers” in 2018. The comments were first reported by The Atlantic and confirmed by The Associated Press.
Joseph DeSiato, father of Travis, said his son and John were motivated to join the military following the 9/11 attacks.
“We, the Harts and the Desiatos, are outraged and offended but more deeply saddened that the president called them losers and suckers," DeSiato said. “They could have gone off to college. They had plans. They had dreams. But they put those aside to fight for the values of our nation and to defend it from those who would take it down."
He said Gold Star families “should never have to read the president of the United States has ridiculed our sons’ and daughters’ decision to stand up and serve in the U.S. military.”
Alma Hart, John’s mother, said she was worried that Trump’s alleged comments may discourage others from serving.
“Think of what his ugly words signal to the next generations,” she said. “How can we, the American citizens, be confident our military is being used for significant moral and constitutional ends if the commander in chief thinks of them as ‘suckers.’”
At a White House news conference on Monday, Trump called the story a “hoax” and said: “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are.”
He added, “The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”