President Donald Trump took a break from the golf course over the weekend to personally award a U.S. Army soldier with a Purple Heart (video below).
Trump made the trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, alongside First Lady Melania Trump on April 22, The Daily Caller reported.
While at the medical center, the president met with Sergeant First Class Alvaro Barrientos, whose leg was recently amputated from the knee down due to injuries sustained in Afghanistan on March 17.
“So I heard about this and I wanted to do it myself,” Trump said during the ceremony “So congratulations on behalf of Melania, myself and the entire nation. Tremendous, tremendous job. Congratulations.”
The president then kissed the soldier’s wife on the cheek, pinned the Purple Heart on his collar, and embraced Barrientos in thanks for his service. Trump then reportedly met in private with other service members for about 90 minutes.
Reactions among social media users were split. While some people found the gesture heartwarming, others found Trump’s choice of words cringeworthy.
“This is so heartwarming…I admit I do not cry easily but tears did flow watching this,” wrote one YouTube user. “God Bless president Trump, his family, colleagues and staff and all who serve the military to keep the world free from terror!”
“I’m fighting back my tears,” wrote another. “He is my cousin and I met him for the first time at Walter Reed a few weeks ago. When I saw him and his family, i was so proud and honored to meet him! Oh wow, what an honor.”
“Trump tries… but to say ‘Congratulations’ to a soldier who lost a leg? How about a simple ‘Thank you for your service,’ Or ‘It’s my honor to present (not ‘award’) this medal to you,'” wrote another observer.
“A opportunistic P.R. stunt by a puffed up, self promoting, President with a foreign policy guarantied to make many more purple hearts,” commented another user.
Even some Trump supporters felt unmoved by the ceremony.
“Although I am a supporter of Donald Trump, I feel this spectacle was a bit lame,” wrote one user. “The Guy himself did not say a word, maybe thinking ‘What the hell, I lost my leg and now I am losing my honor being wheeled out like this to serve as a photo prop for this President Dude! I would rather have a bit more money to live on, instead of this here little tin heart.'”
Trump’s trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center wasn’t the only surprise move he made this week. He also announced that he will be skipping this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner and will instead hold a rally in Pennsylvania that same night, Western Journalism reported.
Sources: The Daily Caller, Associated Press/YouTube, Western Journalism / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr