Donald Trump has Republicans proud to be Republican again

By DOUG IBENDAHL • January 31, 2016


“You are remembered for the rules you break.” — Gen. Douglas MacArthur


Can anyone remember a candidate who has broken more of the old political “rules” than Donald Trump?


Since Thursday a few wags have had the nerve to say it was somehow unseemly for Trump to skip the latest debate and to instead host his own event in Des Moines honoring America’s veterans and raising millions of dollars for their cause.


To those wags I say you are a disgrace. Frankly you don’t deserve to live in a country protected by brave men and women like Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding.


On April 6, 2008, Walding and his fellow Army Green Berets were accompanying Afghan Commandos (Special Forces counterparts trained by the Green Berets) on a dangerous raid into a Taliban stronghold located in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan. This is a particularly hostile part of Afghanistan. The Russians reportedly never dared to venture into the Shok Valley during their 20-year occupation of the country.


And if you’ve been under the mistaken impression our Afghan allies aren’t committed to the cause, here is how another Green Beret described those Afghan Commandos:


“The Taliban calls them the wolves. When they hear the wolves are coming, they know they are in trouble. The commandos are pretty feared. Everywhere we go, they identify us with the commandos.”


Although vastly outnumbered by Taliban fighters, the small unit of Green Berets and their Afghan counterparts eventually prevailed after a ferocious six-and-a-half hour firefight. In the course of the fighting Walding was hit by a sniper’s bullet which nearly tore-off his lower right leg completely. That lower-leg was left dangling and remained connected by only two inches of flesh.


But Walding never left the battle. He just folded-up what was left of his lower-leg against his thigh, tied-it all up, and continued to return fire for four hours.


Walding and nine other Green Berets were awarded the Silver Star for valor in recognition of their incredible heroism that day – the most Silver Stars awarded to any single unit since Vietnam. And in case you’re wondering, no, unfortunately Walding’s lower-leg couldn’t be saved.


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets retired Army Sgt. 1st Class John Wayne Walding to the stage at a event in support of veterans at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ORG XMIT: IAAH419

Donald Trump greets retired Army Sgt. 1st Class John Wayne Walding to the stage at an event in support of veterans in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Trump made Thursday night about our veterans and John Wayne Walding was the event’s keynote speaker. While candidates were squabbling with each other across town and thumping their chests about the next protracted Middle Eastern ground war they can’t wait to get the kids of other families into, Trump had America hearing from heroes who have actually been in war and sacrificed.


I gained more insight into what our veterans go through when they return home by listening to John Wayne Walding than I’ve received from watching all of the debates combined.


Maybe Trump hasn’t worn the Uniform, but he has the self-confidence to share his stage and microphone with a larger-than-life combat veteran. Most politicians are too weak, too selfish, and frankly too petrified of being overshadowed to attempt something like that.


Trump has made supporting our veterans a central part of his campaign. It’s long past time someone did so.


But there are many other heroes who know Trump is in their corner.


The waitress on her feet ten hours a day so she can support a family on her own, the emergency room nurse who comes home dejected after a young accident victim couldn’t be saved despite all of her herculean efforts, and the truck driver constantly on the road to put food on the table for a wife and kids a thousand miles away, all are heroes to Donald Trump.


Standing up for those heroes sometimes requires breaking the old rules.


Taking the microphone away from an arrogant network like Fox News and giving it to a hero who deserves it like John Wayne Walding is just one obvious example. In a real sense Trump is giving a microphone to EVERY American who has been ignored by do-nothing pubic officials from both parties for decades.


Donald Trump has knocked the waste-of-space politicians and petulant pundits off their pedestals – and elevated veterans and other hard working Americans to their rightful place.


Finally having a leader who recognizes who the real heroes are is why Republicans are feeling proud again.


Few of us have what it takes to be a Green Beret, and I’m guessing it’s legally impossible for any American to be an Afghan Commando. And I’m definitely not suggesting Trump supporters want to be known as “the wolves.”


Still, when the do-nothings hear Donald J. Trump and his supporters are coming, the do-nothings know they are in trouble.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


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