United States Presidents, as Commanders in Chiefs of the military, have been sending their personal condolences for fallen soldiers to mothers and wives by letter, telegraph, and phone call for over two hundred years without controversy, so how is it possible at this particular time Donald Trump communicated an alleged misunderstood or mistaken message that displaced creditability for himself and for his administration? The public well realizes Trump is egotistical and often has an arrogant nature. To me the exact contents of the call is not fully known or understood at this time. It appears a matter of ‘he said, she said’. But we do know that within these grieving messages controversy and confrontation are rare.
We also know the president can be crude and un-diplomatic when speaking directly off the top of his head without proper or thorough forethought, often without consideration for the feelings of others. Trump should take note of previous presidential replies in similar heartbreaking and grievous situations. I therefore suggest the Trump staff and also the reader briefly source the Internet for consolation and comparisons.
At your convenience open any search engine and look for The Letters of Abraham Lincoln, Famous Letters, and in particular letters to his generals and condolences.
My favorites are Lincoln’s letter to Major General Joseph Hooker, a fatherly epistle, warning of overconfidence, hubris, extended ambitions while placing him in command of the Army of the Potomac advising should he desire to be a dictator-president Hooker must first bring success to the battle field. Another letter fully drafted because, I assume Lincoln thought it too harsh or unnecessary, was never sent to General George Meade for disastrously not, not following through after the historic victory at Gettysburg perhaps extending the war for another year. Or was it General McClellan due to unresponsiveness and lack of aggressiveness? Said Lincoln sarcastically “If you do not want to use the army could you loan it to me.’
In connection with the alleged Trump condolence controversy I provide Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby sent upon hearing of the death of her five sons during the war. It is an appropriate simple well written and sincere tome of sympathy for a grieving mother.
Executive Mansion, Washington. Nov. 21, 1864.
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our heavenly father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you with only cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
Added notes of interest:
Lincoln’s letter was published by the Boston Evening Transcript. Later revealed that only two sons of Bixby’s died in battle. Charles and Oliver. Of the remaining, one deserted the army, one was honorably discharged and another either deserted or died a prisoner of war. It is believed Mrs. Bixby may, may have been a Confederate sympathizer. Copies of the letter have been circulated over the years as original causing some people to believe they possess the original.
General Hooker was a liberal commander and allowed his soldiers to frequent ‘Ladies of the Night ‘ along the Potomac River and Washington streets, thereafter commonly known as ‘Hookers’.
All the Best to you.