I remember vividly a phone call from my son. It was at a time of war, and he was in the fight. I was not allowed to know where he was or what his mission was designed to accomplish.

Cell phone use and communication via email were forbidden. He had been “off the grid” for quite some time, yet firmly situated in my thoughts and prayers.

Finally, my phone rang one morning, and I heard his voice. His unit was, at last, given one calling card to be used among them to call home. He had just finished explaining that to me, and the phone went dead.

When I realized we had been disconnected, I held the phone numbly for a moment and then began to shake.

Tears began to flow. What had happened? Was it simply that the time limit for use had expired on the card, or was there a much more frightening explanation?

I wracked my brain trying to recreate the background noises during the brief call to find some reassuring nugget of hope — to keep the fear from overtaking me. Had he been blown up? Had a sniper taken aim at my boy and pulled the trigger?

Have you been following the hoopla over our president’s handling — or mishandling — of the tragic death of four soldiers in Niger? On Monday, after having mentioned nothing publicly for 12 days regarding the incident, President Donald Trump responded to the question of whether he had been in touch with the families of the fallen.

He defensively justified his lack of action, making utterly false statements about former President Barack Obama and other unnamed presidents’ responses to military deaths during their tenure.

On Wednesday morning, it was revealed that he finally called the families.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., was in the car with slain Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow on the way to receive the sergeant’s casket when the president’s call came to her.

Wilson told CNN, "Basically he (the president) said, 'Well I guess he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts…'"

She went on to say, "I heard what he said because the phone was on speaker" and that Johnson, already distraught, particularly after hearing the casket would be closed, sunk further into her grief.

His flippant comments exacerbated her distress.

I have tried to give this president the benefit of the doubt on many hotly debated issues.

I have tried to refrain from echoing the “snarky” commentary directed at him by others.

But as in the case of his attack on the Kahns, a gold star family, when I wrote about his lack of compassion, I cannot give him the benefit of the doubt on this despicable behavior.

Thankfully, my son is OK. But those four soldiers died in the service of this country. I can’t imagine getting that call if my son had been one of those killed. I can only imagine how heart-wrenching Trump's cavalier comments would have been.

Shame on you, Mr. President. Our soldiers deserve better. Their families deserve better. Our country deserves better.

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist from Chesterton. Send comments to wendylevenfeld@gmail.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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