The bodies of the 13 brave service members who lost their lives when a suicide bomber used the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, as their target have now been brought home to American soil. This arrival should have allowed Democratic President Joe Biden to make up for at least some of his past mistakes and regain a little of America’s respect and dignity, as he met them at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and held a service in their honor.
While there’s no way he could take back what was done, this service and “dignified transfer of remains” could have shown both the American people and the families of those recently lost that he cared and was apologetic about his part in their deaths.
It could have.
But it didn’t.
Why? Well, because he chose to treat it as nothing more than another checklist on his daily schedule to see to.
As you may know, before the “dignified transfer of remains” to the family members, Biden was scheduled to meet with those families individually, offering his condolences, support, and pride in their loved ones’ unfettered service to our nation.
But for at least one family, the meeting appeared to be nothing more than a formality for Biden.
Enter Jiennah McCollum, the pregnant wife of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum. Along with two of her sisters-in-law and her father-in-law, she traveled to Dover to receive the body and meet our president.
But when it came time to actually meet Biden in person, only the very pregnant Jiennah could go through with the meeting. According to Rylee’s sister Roice, all other family members made a point to leave the room just before Biden was scheduled to arrive.
According to The Washington Post who spoke with Roice, “they did not want to speak with the man they held responsible for McCollum’s death.” They didn’t even want to lay eyes on him.
So Jiennah alone met with Biden.
And according to her, the meeting did not go well. Jiennah told her family members when she left the meeting that Biden did speak of loss to her, but not of her own or the fact that her unborn child would now never get to meet its father. Instead, he talked of his own.
He rattled on about how he knew about loss, retelling how his son Beau, also in the military, had gotten cancer and died. But it didn’t feel comforting to Jiennah in the least. Instead, she told her sisters-in-law that it felt “scripted and shallow, a conversation that lasted only a couple of minutes and, according to Roice, in ‘total disregard to the loss of our Marine.”
As Roice told the Post, “You can’t f– up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry. This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands.”
Roice and Rylee’s mother had already made a similar statement, clearly blaming Biden for the death of her boy.
Another Gold Star family member, Paula Knauss, the mother of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss isn’t exactly thrilled with Biden either and places a large portion of her son’s death at Biden’s feet as well. While at Dover to receive the remains of her son, she noted to the Post that like most family members there, she felt a sense of pride for the man that he was, unforgettable loss at the life that was cut short, and, as the Post put it, “disappointed over what Knauss deemed a lack of leadership and protection for the service members in Afghanistan.”
As she told the Post, “You can’t have a hasty withdrawal after 20 years of war. Because it’s beyond me. It disgraces the name of all those who have fought in the past and who are now on ground, foreign ground, fighting right now.”
And she’s not wrong.
Like the McCollum family and all others who lost their heroes, she sent her son overseas, knowing that tragedy could befall him. But she also had hope that our nation would back him up, should he need it. And when he and his comrades needed it most, Biden abandoned them, leaving them stranded and fighting, not just for freedom but for their very lives.
While President Biden can’t undo the past, opportunities like these could have given him a chance to, at the very least, own up to his mistakes. And yet, when given them, he failed America yet again.
No wonder the McCollum’s didn’t want to meet with him; I wouldn’t either.