THE WHITE HOUSE – President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are scheduled to attend a reception in honor of Gold Star families on the State Floor of the White House Friday evening.
Gold Star families are those who have lost a relative killed in action.
What’s notable about the event is that it is closed to the media. Not even the White House pool is allowed. Most presidents welcome a bipartisan opportunity to show compassion and patriotism while thanking families of fallen heroes for their sacrifice. However, Trump has had a difficult relationship with Gold Star families, from his candidacy through to his presidency.
As a candidate, Donald Trump verbally attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan, who lost their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, because while on stage at the 2016 Democratic Convention, the couple had publicly rebuked Trump as the serviceman’s father held up a copy of the Constitution and asked him to read it.
Later as president, at a 2017 Rose Garden ceremony, Trump defended not making condolence calls to all the families of four U.S. soldiers who had been killed recently in an ambush in Niger.
“If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls — a lot of them didn’t make calls — I like to make calls when it’s appropriate,” Trump said.
Following Trump’s remarks, former White House photographer Pete Souza posted on Instagram an image he shot of Barack and Michelle Obama consoling Paul and Janet Monti, the parents of Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti. He was killed in action in June 2006 in Afghanistan helping fellow soldiers. Souza noted that he had photographed President Obama “meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action.
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The President and First Lady console Paul and Janet, parents of Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, who had just been awarded posthumously with the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan. This was the first of 52 Medals of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military valor, that President Obama bestowed during his two terms. I also photographed him meeting with hundreds of wounded soldiers, and family members of those killed in action.
With photographers tagging along, Obama often visited Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where fallen service members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. Section 60 is where Capt. Humayun Khan is buried.
In a May 2016 ceremony at Arlington, Obama said, “As commander-in-chief, I have no greater responsibility than leading our men and women in uniform; I have no more solemn obligation than sending them into harm’s way. I think about this every time I approve an operation as president.”