Iraq War Veteran Paul Rieckhoff criticized Donald Trump Jr. on Veterans Day for comparing business deals his family gave up so his father could be president with the sacrifices veterans made.
“Don Jr. is of age, if he really wants to understand what sacrifice is all about, he can join the military,” Rieckhoff told CNN New Day host John Berman.
In his new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” the president’s eldest son writes that a trip to Arlington National Cemetery just before President Trump’s inauguration reminded him of his own family’s “sacrifices” made for Trump to become president.
Then-President-elect Trump and the first family were at the cemetery the day before Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017. Trump laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where unidentified soldiers from World War I, World War II and the Korean War are buried.
“I rarely get emotional, if ever,” Trump Jr. wrote.
“Yet, as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country,” he added.
“Frankly, it was a big sacrifice, costing us millions and millions of dollars annually, a huge book of business that I had personally built,” he continues.
Trump Jr. said he considered all of the sacrifices the Trump family made in order for Trump to serve in office as an Army Band bugler played “Taps” in front of the tomb.
“In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed — voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office,’” Trump Jr. wrote.
Rieckhoff, who founded the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) organization, told Berman this was an example of how the president and his family are “tone-deaf about what it means to serve.”
While he acknowledged there are many different ways a person can serve their country, he called comparing losing business deals to the veterans buried at Arlington “ridiculous.”
“Unfortunately, that’s the kind of tone that’s permeated the last three years of this administration,” Rieckhoff said.
Rieckhoff wasn’t alone in finding Trump Jr. comparing his own experience to those who served in the military to be inappropriate. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) blasted the passage on Twitter, saying, “Eight men I served with are buried in Section 60 of Arlington. I visit them monthly. Even if Donald JR. lived a 1,000 years he will never even get close to being as good and honorable as they were. Sacrifice is only a word to the Trumps.”
Veteran Army Major Richard Ojeda posted on Twitter that the first son should be “banned from that hallowed ground.”
“His bloodline has nothing to do with the selfless courage that fills those gardens of stone,” Ojeda wrote.
Khizr Khan, whose son Humayun was killed in Iraq, told MSNBC on Sunday that Trump Jr.’s book segment was “disgusting” and “shameful.” He added that he didn’t expect “any better” from Trump or his family.