‘We are one people’: Trump pushes civic nationalism in American Legion speech (VIDEO)
“We are one people, with one home and one great flag,” Trump addressed the American Legion, which describes itself as a “patriotic veterans organization” committed to mentoring youth, advocating patriotism and honor, supporting the military, and serving the veterans. Founded in 1919, it operates education programs such as Boys Nation and Girls Nation.
“We are not defined by the color of our skin, the figure on our paycheck, or the party of our politics. We are defined by our shared humanity, by the citizenship in this magnificent nation, and by the love that fills our hearts,” Trump said at the Legion’s convention in Reno, Nevada on Wednesday.
“It is time to heal the wounds that divide us.”
Over the past week, Trump had been under intense criticism for his remarks following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, where alt-right marchers clashed with counter-protesters.
Although he condemned white supremacists, Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence, including the counter-protesters, which many saw as his failure to unequivocally condemn the white supremacists in Charlottesville.
At the Legion’s convention, Trump pushed for strengthening the US military. He boasted about working with Congress to achieve “a dramatic increase” in military spending this year, which will go to the production of state-of-the-art defense missiles, as well as “new surveillance and long-range strike capabilities to prevent our enemies from launching [attacks] in the first place,” he said.
The Trump administration has made “incredible progress” in fixing “the broken” Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Trump told the convention before signing the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, legislation intended to speed up resolution of veterans’ appeals.
The president cited the delivery of same-day emergency mental health services at VA medical centers, the opening of a White House hotline for veterans, as well as his signing of a bill to hold VA accountable in June, among successes of his administration with regard to helping American veterans.
In July, Congress approved a spending allocation of $659 billion to fund the Pentagon and emergency war accounts. A total of $78.3 billion of the amount was allocated for veterans’ care - almost $4 billion above last year’s spending.
Trump’s address to the veterans also comes days after he announced that the US is not leaving Afghanistan.
The president said America’s new strategy in Afghanistan is to give the military the authority and resources to secure an “honorable and enduring outcome.” On Monday, after a months-long review process, the president announced that the US would continue fighting the 16-year war in Afghanistan, which is by far the longest-ever for the US. His statement was followed by Defense Secretary James Mattis saying that the Pentagon was working to send more troops to Afghanistan.