The plight and pain of the Gold Star families have been front and center in recent days. The conversations President Donald Trump has had to comfort the grieving widows and children of the fallen soldiers in Niger have been used as a callous political football.
The weaponizing of a president's interactions with the families of fallen soldiers has been viewed with disgust by many on both sides.
Thursday, in a brief on-camera statement, Gen. James Mattis addressed the deaths of four American soldiers in Niger. He said in his typical, blunt tenor that “there's a reason we have U.S. Army soldiers there and not the Peace Corps ... because we carry guns.”
The secretary went on to describe “part of the danger that our troops face in these counter-terrorist campaigns” and that the “U.S. military does not leave its trooping behind, and I would just ask you not question the action to the troops who were caught in the firefight.”
After finishing his statement, Mattis took a single question. Part of that question was about the political weaponization of Gold Star families:
“You yourself have comforted families of the fallen. In the last week or so, Gold Star families have been brought into this larger fray. Does that anger you to see them dragged out into this?”
Mattis looked to the reporter and bluntly said six haunting words that ended the briefing:
"We honor our fallen in America, and that's all the more I'll say about the Gold Star families.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen."