Donald Trump’s visit to France may be over, but it’s yielded one of the most memorable moments of his presidency so far — and it all began when the president spotted a real American hero in the crowd at one of his speeches.
According to American Military News, the speech wasn’t widely covered in the media — and, indeed, we didn’t get much of an idea of what the president said. That hardly mattered, though, once he saw several members of the Greatest Generation in the audience.
There were 200 active service members and U.S. Embassy workers at the event, which was set to mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entrance into France during World War I.
While there were plenty of heroes to be found there, three in particular stood out, identified by American Military News as Donald Cobb, Steven Melnikoff and Joseph Reilly.
Who were they? Three of a group that’s sadly beginning to leave us — men who fought and won World War II, the kind of men who earned the moniker the “Greatest Generation.”
According to a Facebook post by the Greatest Generations Foundation, Cobb served aboard the USS Murphy, a Benson-class destroyer. Melnikoff was a member of the 29th Infantry, one of the units that landed at Normandy during the opening salvo in the invasion of Europe. And Reilly was a member of the 101st Airborne, the legendary unit that dropped into Normandy by air on D-Day. All three were part of the invasion that helped liberate France — and eventually, all of Europe.
When Trump spotted them, he did something amazing.
First, the president pointed them out and honored them for their service.
“These are real heroes,” Trump said. “These courageous men helped to liberate this continent and win the war.”
Then, he waded into the crowd to meet with the three men who gave so much to serve our nation — and the world — in its hour of need.
According to the post from the Greatest Generations Foundation, the men would go on to join with Trump as well as French President Emmanuel Macron to celebrate Bastille Day the next day. They thanked the president, as well as military officials and embassy staff, “for welcoming our esteemed Normandy veterans back to Paris for this special and historic occasion.”
This is what we need a president to do. The heroes who defended this country and the world in its most dire hour are passing from this earth rapidly. The men — sometimes just in their teens — who fought and died at hallowed places like Normandy, Iwo Jima and the Ardennes will soon all have retired to the firmament, leaving only stories of their courage and bravery behind.
While they are still on this earth, every American needs to thank them for what they did for us. President Trump did it the right way. If you know a World War II veteran, acknowledge them as well. It’s literally the least we can all do.
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