President Joe Biden is scheduled to be in attendance Friday when the remains of the three American soldiers killed in a recent drone attack in Jordan will return to the U.S.
Participating in the solemn military tradition that is also known as a “dignified transfer” is just the latest way that Biden’s presidency has contrasted with that of Donald Trump, who openly disrespected Gold Star Families of Black and brown soldiers killed while serving the United States overseas.
All three of the U.S. soldiers killed in the early morning attack on Sunday were Black Americans based in Georgia. Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, Spc. Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, and Spc. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, were the only ones slain at the military outpost located in a region beset by military conflict, including Iran, which is believed to be the source of the fatal drone attack.
“They risked it all, and we’ll never forget the sacrifice and service to our country that the dozens of service members who were wounded in recovery now,” Biden said Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington to mark the start of Black History Month.
The three service members who were killed in their housing units were working to support Operation Inherent Resolve, a combined task force that participates in targeted operations to defeat the ISIS militant group. They had been assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, 926th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade, in Fort Moore, Georgia.
The New York Times reported that Rivers, Sanders and Moffett were among “a team of soldiers trained to deploy at short notice to build roads, landing fields and protective earthen berms for U.S. forces.”
Friday marks the second dignified transfer of Biden’s presidency he will attend in a display of the type of compassion for Gold Star families rarely shown by his predecessor, particularly when it came to fallen Black and brown soldiers.
Research published by the Brookings Institute found that Black Americans like Rivers, Sanders and Moffett are much more likely to serve the U.S. both militarily and in a civilian capacity than Americans from any other background.
While Trump’s disrespect for the military easily crossed racial boundaries, it appeared he saved his strongest vitriol for – surprise – ethnic minorities.
No one can forget the way Trump maliciously mocked the late Sen. John McCain in death for having been a prisoner of war in Vietnam — “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump notably said — it just hits a little different when he mixes his special brand of racism with his disrespect for veterans killed in action.
That certainly seemed to be the case nearly three years ago in an unfortunate episode when Trump denied telling Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow — Myeshia Johnson — that her husband “must’ve known what he signed up for” when he enlisted in the armed forces before being killed in the line of duty in Africa in 2017.
Meanwhile, the wife of a soldier who was killed with Johnson in the widely reported Niger ambush — both of whom are white — said she was comforted by Trump’s “gracious” call in the days after her Special Forces husband Bryan Black’s death.
Separately, Trump has also called fallen soldiers “suckers” and “losers.”
Trump also infamously mocked the father of another soldier killed in the line of action in a nasty public dispute with the service member’s mourning parents in the months leading up to the 2016 election.
In that instance, Trump resorted to racist tropes about Muslims in his back and forth with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in a car bombing in 2004 in Iraq as he tried to save other troops.
“This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM and the U.S. Get smart!” Trump tweeted at the time.
This is America.