President Donald Trump raised more than a few eyebrows during his first visit as president to Walter Reed National Medical Center on Saturday when he awarded the Purple Heart to Army Sergeant First Class Alvaro Barrientos. "When I heard about this, I wanted to do it myself," Trump told Barrientos as he placed the Purple Heart on the soldier's lapel. “Congratulations … tremendous.” The medal is given to service members who were wounded or killed in battle.
Many on social media immediately criticized the president’s choice of words to the wounded soldier whose leg had to be amputated after he survived an attack in Afghanistan’s Helmland province.
Oh...dear.— Kim Dozier (@KimDozier) April 22, 2017
Really, believe me, no one seeks a Purple Heart.
Hey military, y'all would Eat. A. Brother. Alive. If they did this. Whatcha gonna say bout Trump? Hope his staff learns him up right quick. https://t.co/V9z9PVcTzQ— Kevin Baron (@DefenseBaron) April 22, 2017
Congratulations? Like the Purple Heart is a prize? Trump is an idiot. Most of us always knew this. https://t.co/vf3g4AOA7m— The Tweetwit (@TheTweetwit) April 22, 2017
@louwho27 It's rather like if Trump signed a condolence card to a widow "congratulations". Not everything we do to mark something is a congratulation.— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) April 22, 2017
@barbarastarrcnn So inappropriate. You don't congratulate a soldier for being wounded. You thank them for their service, dedication and sacrifice.— SchoolHouseRockAlum (@HouseOfMichele) April 22, 2017
This isn’t the first time the president has been criticized for remarks he made about the Purple Heart. During the campaign, a veteran gave the then-nominee his Purple heart. "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier," Trump said at the time.
Trump allowed news media to cover the event on Saturday, in contrast to his predecessor, who awarded Purple Heart medals behind closed doors when he went to Walter Reed.