Ari Melber brought Gold Star parents Shiela and Calvin Murphy on his show today. They are the parents of Etienne Murphy, who was killed in Syria after the vehicle he was riding in rolled over.
They did not receive any acknowledgment from Donald Trump. No telephone call, no letter. Despite their "held held high" attitudes, you can tell it hurt them very much, especially when Calvin Murphy tells Melber at the end of the interview how he feels the president should regard fallen soldiers.
"He is their commander in chief. He is their commander in chief. And every life matters...He is the one who ultimately has to make that decision for them to go. So he should care about each soldier and every family."
I am putting the transcript below, but no text will adequately convey the grief, patriotism, and fierce pride these parents had in their son.
No parent should have to endure this. No parent should lose their child to war. But if they do, they deserve respect, gratitude and love from the country they have sacrificed for. And that includes the president.
ARI MELBER: The larger context is clear and an associated press report which notes, quote, like presidents before him, trump has made personal contact with some families of the fallen, not all. What's different is that trump, alone among them, has picked a political fight over who has done better to honor the war dead and their families. One such individual, Army Specialist Etienne Murphy died in May after an armored vehicle that he was traveling in rolled over in Syria.
And I want to turn now to broaden this national discussion. I am joined by his parents, Sheila and Calvin Murphy. Thank you both for joining me. This is a difficult topic any time and especially, I imagine, right now. I guess I want to start, Mrs. Murphy, by asking you to tell us about your son.
SHEILA MURPHY: My son was a good boy. He liked to laugh. He loved his country. He loved his wife. And his two boys. It was in his blood to join the military but he wanted to do more for his country. So he volunteered to become a ranger, which he did. One of the army's elite. And it was just his goal to go and fight against evil for this world, for this country and for his family.
MELBER: And Mr. Murphy, how do you think we should remember these soldiers who die in service, as we have this national conversation?
CALVIN MURPHY: Well, with me, the Rangers, they're like a special breed of men and women. I don't think they should die but they go serve their country. Everything that they have to go through to get where they are is just a tremendous accomplishment. And they do things behind the scenes that no one knows about. And we just want them, that they should be, they deserve the credit, the credibility that they work so hard for. And this country that they dedicated their life to protect. And so it's kind of hard when people kind of overlook that.
MELBER: And Mr. Murphy, this occurred in May of this year. Did President Trump call you after your son was killed?
CALVIN MURPHY: No. We haven't heard anything from the president. But I mean, we had the Chief of Staff has called us, the head of the Rangers has called us. We had Senators from Massachusetts, Georgia, mayors from Georgia and Massachusetts call us. But no, not the president.
MELBER: And Mrs. Murphy, what did you think when you heard about President Trump's recent comments, comparing his own approach to this to previous presidents in both parties?
SHEILA MURPHY: Well, I just want to give my honest opinion. A letter or a call really isn't going to change how I feel but I just think that whenever anyone is discussing things that have to do with people who are grieving, that they should maybe think about what they're saying.
You don't know how it will affect that person or persons. And what I really want to say, I don't want this back and forth banter about whether or not someone did a better job.
It's about my son. He was Specialist Etienne Murphy. He loved doing what he did. And now this is the aftermath. This is what happens when people, young people go over there to fight for our country that they love so much. We're the aftermath. We're the casualties of war.
My daughter-in-law, my grandchildren, my son, my daughter-in-laws, they're the casualties of war. The young people, those soldiers coming back with PTSD, they're the casualties of war.
It is not really about whether or not a person may have called or did something more than the previous one. It's about what are you doing now to help those who are left behind, who have to struggle day to day?
I dread the sunrise. And I welcome the sunset. Because I'm hoping as the sun sets, maybe I don't have to deal with another sunrise because my pain is just so great.
So if that letter, or that phone call could bring my son back, I would run from here on foot to Washington, D.C.. to get that letter. But right now, it really doesn't matter who did the greatest thing.
What matters right now is that people remember my child. Especially, all the ones that are gone and those out there right now at this moment fighting for us. Remember them. Put the spotlight on them. And not on anything that has to do with whether or not someone did something that the other person didn't do. It doesn't matter to me right now. I just want my child back. I just want my child.
CALVIN MURPHY: He is their commander in chief. He is their commander in chief. And every life matters.
SHEILA MURPHY: It all does. All life.
CALVIN MURPHY: He is the one who ultimately has to make that decision for them to go. So he should care about each soldier and every family.
SHEILA MURPHY: But it's okay. I've learned not to depend on man. That I understand President Trump may have been busy. He may not have the compassion or the concern that I have because it's my child. So it really doesn't matter to me whether or not I receive a call or a letter. I do understand how people are and how this world is. It is just, it is what it is.
I'm just trying to let people know about my son and the many countless others. And I don't want them to be forgotten. I don't want it to be about a letter or call not being received. What are we doing now to honor them? To help their families?
MELBER: Mrs. Murphy, Mr. Murphy, I think it is so important what you're saying because in politics and news which we intersect with sometimes. Your daily grief. So we want to honor your son and I thank you for sharing that. I wish, if we were in the same room, I would ask if I could give you a hug. I really appreciate you honoring your son and sharing that with us today.