Klobuchar: “The brave men and women who have served in our armed forces represent the best among us...Sadly right now we have a commander in chief who takes out everything on everyone, including personal vendettas against people like Senator McCain. Rather than being silent, rather than being silent as sadly too many have been in reaction to his comments, I think we must stand up."
WASHINGTON — Today on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke to honor our veterans and servicemembers, as well as the families and communities that support them.
Klobuchar joined Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Jack Reed (D-RI) in introducing a resolution honoring servicemembers and veterans, and condemning the reported denigration of military service, prisoners of war, and Gold Star families by President Trump.
As Klobuchar said in her remarks, “The brave men and women who have served in our armed forces represent the best among us. Whether you served decades ago or you still wear a uniform today, we owe you a debt of gratitude for your service and sacrifice on behalf of our great nation.
“Sadly right now we have a commander in chief who takes out everything on everyone, including personal vendettas against people like Senator McCain. Rather than being silent, rather than being silent as sadly too many have been in reaction to his comments, I think we must stand up.”
Full transcript of remarks as delivered below and video available HERE.
Mr. President, I rise today to honor our veterans and service members. I thank Senator Reed for his beautiful remarks and his service, as well as Senator Carper and as well as Senator Duckworth, who is leading our efforts today as she has led for so long.
As I listen to my colleagues I note that many of them were couching their remarks in history of people that I literally could imagine John McCain right now walking up and down that aisle, crossing the aisle coming over working with people, slapping people in the back how much he loved this place and how much he loved our country.
I remember the silent courageous fortitude of Danny Inouye. And I remember so many of those that I passed paths with like Senator Dole. And I think the reason we talk about that history is because we know that this argument in this cause is based in history. Our democracy is based in history.
The idea that people serve is based in history, they don't serve for themselves. They serve, in the words of Senator McCain, for a cause larger than themselves and that's why I picture those that served before us just like our soldiers do when they sign up to serve. The brave men and women who have served in our armed forces represent the best among us. Whether you served decades ago or you still wear a uniform today, we owe you a debt of gratitude for your service and sacrifice on behalf of our great nation.
All service members and veterans have something in common wherever they are politically, they have something in common and regardless of when and where they served they have something in common, a deep love of our country and a very real understanding of what it means to serve and sacrifice. And they deserve a commander in chief that loves our country in the same way for the same reasons and has that same deep understanding of why those soldiers signed up to serve.
Unfortunately, as my colleagues have pointed out, the person currently entrusted to be the commander in chief of our brave servicemen and women has according to many, many recent reports, including things he has actually said on TV, has made repeated comments denigrating their service, questioning their judgement, and belittling those who were prisoners of war who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
Yes, I will never forget what he said about Senator McCain when he died. Senator McCain's friend, Jack Reed, just recalled. I too stood in front of that cell in Vietnam with John McCain where he had been held. And when you stand there and you think about the fact that he made the decision to allow others to be released before him, that's courage. What does it say to our service members when a commander in chief cancels a visit to an American cemetery in France, because according to one report, he feared his hair would be ruined by the rain.
What does it say as reported in the Atlantic when he questions the value of paying his respects to fallen Americans by claiming service members killed in the service of this country are losers and suckers? What does it say when he expresses contempt for not just John McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war, but also accuses former President, George H.W Bush of being a loser for being shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War 2.
And finally, what does it say to our troops when the President refuses to publicly condemn, warn, or even criticize Vladimir Putin following news reports that Russia offered bounties for the killing of members of our armed forces and our coalition partners. Our service members are always there for us and we must be there for them.
Even when our nation is divided, we must still collectively, collectively reject any attempt to diminish their service. We learned that in a big way after Vietnam. I remember standing at one of our serve our troops events in Minnesota a few years ago. And that is when our restaurant and community comes together, sometimes thousands of people to serve the families of the troops that are serving overseas -- a steak dinner -- all donated -- at the same time - the troops are somehow getting the same dinner. It's an extraordinary event and many of us volunteer to work on the lines.
And one day when I was there, there was a Vietnam vet and he was serving up mashed potatoes and he had a Vietnam vet hat on and I said thank you for your service. And he said, when I came home, I was greeted by tomatoes. I don't want this to ever happen to another soldier again.
That's why I come here every year to volunteer and we learned back then that you have major disagreements about war and war policy, but you do not take it out on the warriors on the front line. Sadly right now we have a commander in chief who takes out everything on everyone, including personal vendettas against people like Senator McCain. Rather than being silent, rather than being silent as sadly too many have been in reaction to his comments, I think we must stand up.
I think the way that we honor their service and sacrifice is being very clear that we condemn the remarks that the President has made. And as I noted and I'll end with this, the last time I saw Senator McCain, I was at the ranch and he was in his last months of life. My husband and I went there and sat with Cindy and with John. And at the very end, he was getting tired and he wasn't talking much anymore and he was having trouble talking anyway.
And he pointed at one of his books and I picked it up and that's when he pointed without saying the words to that sentence. There's nothing more liberating in life than fighting for a cause larger than yourself. That's what unites our troops when they sign up to serve.
That's what should unite us in this chamber right now. I urge my colleagues to join in this effort so that our men and women in uniform across the United States and around the world know that we will not remain silent. Thank you. Mr. President, I yield the floor.