Donald Trump on Friday praised US troops who have died in America’s post-9/11 conflicts just one week after being accused of calling them “suckers” and “losers” – allegations he has fiercely denied.
“We express our undying loyalty to the nearly 6 million young men and women who have enlisted in the United States Armed Forces since September 11th 2001,” he said in a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where that flight crashed.
“More than 7,000 military heroes have laid down their lives since 9/11 to preserve our freedom. No words can express the summit of their glory or the infinite depth of our gratitude. But we will strive every single day to repay our immeasurable debt and prove worthy of their supreme sacrifice,” Mr Trump said. “America will never relent in pursuing terrorists that threaten our people.”
That comes after his administration this week announced it is removing thousands more American troops from the Middle East.
He uttered the words one week after The Atlantic reported he made disparaging comments about US troops on more than one occasion.
The magazine, which the president has since predicted could soon go out of business, reported in a bombshell article published last Friday afternoon that he nixed a planned visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, with the White House saying Marine One could not fly through bad weather to the site.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers," The Atlantic reported, citing anonymous sources Mr Trump is calling on to reveal themselves publicly. The publication also reported that the commander in chief called the more than 1,800 US Marines buried there “suckers” for going to World War II and being killed.
He had previously said publicly that he was no fan of the late GOP Senator John McCain because the former US Navy pilot was shot down during the Vietnam War.
The same day the article was posted online, the president vigorously denied making the comments.
“It’s a fake story and it’s a disgrace that they’re allowed to do it. … To me, they’re heroes,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s even hard to believe how they could do it. And I say that, the level of bravery, and to me, they’re absolute heroes.”
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