Actually words do matter, Mr. Trump

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

It is with great trepidation that I am sharing my opinion on recent events in this forum.

As I have mentioned before, this is a business site — and while I have chosen to address controversial issues and share personal experiences here — I have also taken great pains to stick to apolitical topics.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

The decision to do so is largely a matter of common sense, given the ugliness of U.S. presidential politics and the candidates currently involved therein. Furthermore, I am a private person who generally has little desire to air my personal opinions publicly.

However, there are times when I simply cannot remain silent. So today, I am writing to refute U.S. presidential nominee Donald J. Trump’s assertion that the lewd and vulgar remarks he made about women 11 years ago are of little consequence.

To begin with, let’s examine Trump’s claims that the remarks were simply “locker room talk” that he engaged in during a private conversation, and that they are not indicative of his true feelings about women.

There are two specific reasons why these claims lack merit.

The first is based upon my personal experience. Having been around plenty of public figures as a journalist, I can say with great certainty that you will very rarely, if ever, see the genuine person when they are in the spotlight. In public, every single second is contrived. Why? Because they know they are being watched. It is only in the private, unguarded moments when they feel safe and at ease, that you will see the person’s true character. So in my humble opinion and experience, the words Trump uttered when he had no reason to fear being caught are definitely indicative of his true character.

The second, and more important is that in Connecticut, where he once had a home and now owns at least one luxury high-rise that I know of, the activity Trump so callously described in his alleged “locker room talk” is a crime. The relevant portion of C.G.S. §53a-72a states that someone is guilty of sexual assault in the third degree when they compel “another person to submit to sexual contact (A) by the use of force against such other person or a third person, or (B) by the threat of use of force against such other person or against a third person, which reasonably causes such other person to fear physical injury to himself or herself or a third person…” The offense is a Class D felony, punishable upon conviction by up to five years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.

To brag about wanting to, or being able to engage in such conduct — specifically kissing women without their consent or grabbing them by their private parts — and then chalking it up to “locker room talk” is inane at best, and arguably symptomatic of depraved thinking at worst.

Now as Trump and his supporters rightfully contend, it is not illegal to say what he said, as long as he never actually acted on it. And, as Trump and his supporters contend, there are some people who may not find his remarks vulgar, offensive or morally reprehensible at all. Frankly, I don’t know who they are — and I don’t want to know. But I digress.

In the last few days, Trump has repeatedly attempted to mitigate his own behavior by drawing comparisons to things former President Bill Clinton has allegedly said and done. However, his insistence that his verbal denigration of women pales in comparison to Clinton’s alleged and actual sexual transgressions also falls flat for one extremely significant reason.

If elected, Donald J. Trump will find himself in a position where a poor choice of words can have very, very, serious consequences — because words are very powerful.

Throughout the ages, words have been used as weapons and used as tools to broker peace. They have spurred men to action. They have sparked revolutions. They have been used to ensure the punishment of the guilty, and for the wrongful indictment of the innocent. Historically, words have been used to lift people from the depths of despair and to beat them into submission. Words have shaped countries and cultures and people.

The greatest dissidents, the greatest thinkers, the greatest leaders of all time, were known not only for what they did, but for what they said, and what they wrote.

So actually, Mr. Trump, words do matter.

On Memorial Day remember all of the fallen

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.
Red, White and Blue Umbrella. Pictured on Memorial Day, 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Patriotic Colors. Memorial Day Ceremony in Warrenton, Va., May 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. I hope you are enjoying the last day of your three-day weekend. I hope you’ve had fun celebrating the unofficial start of summer, and I hope you celebrated it responsibly. But most importantly I hope you’ve stopped to reflect upon the true meaning and significance of Memorial Day.

Today is not about blockbuster sales, blockbuster movies or backyard barbecues. It is a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in armed conflicts around the world. It is a time to reflect on their patriotism, sense of duty and courage. It is also a time to remember the families that had to go on after suffering the unspeakable loss of their loved ones.

Remembering America’s Fallen War Dogs

But there is another group we seldom hear about that should not be forgotten. These are the American military animals — mostly (but not all) dogs — that were also killed in action.

In an effort to learn more about the unsung heroes of the U.S.A.’s armed forces, I came across several websites, including This page pays tribute to “The War Dogs of the United States Military.” Its contents brought me to tears.

Wreath. Shot at Memorial Day Service in Warrenton, Virginia in 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Memorial Day Wreath. Warrenton, Va., 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Apparently there was a time, not too long ago, when the American military regarded its dogs the much in the same way it viewed tanks, planes, submarines, guns and bombs. These dogs — living creatures — were “relegated to the status of military equipment instead of personnel.” Among other things, this once meant that the dogs that survived the horrors of war were simply discarded (left behind or put to sleep) once they served their “purpose.” It also meant that the geniuses in charge of the U.S. armed forces historically refused to recognize the part that the dogs killed in action and those that survived played in this country’s military campaigns. According to the author of the article on the Tribute to War Dogs of the United States Military page, the rationale for this was that honoring canine warriors would be “demeaning to servicemen.”

Luckily the public and the “servicemen” themselves roundly castigated the idea. And as so often happens when the establishment is called out in the court of public opinion, significant changes ensued. Most importantly, military dogs are no longer put down or abandoned once their tour(s) of duty end. From what I understand, they either join their handlers once their handlers return to civilian life or are put up for adoption.

Increased media coverage in recent years has also heightened public awareness about the work that military dogs do and the bond between them and their human partners. News about the death of our war dogs is no longer ignored. Military dog handlers who receive honors for their efforts are quick to share credit with their canine partners. Internet stories about dogs grieving for their fallen handlers and troops angered by the loss of their dogs are now commonplace.

Rest In Peace, Brave Warriors

Old Glory. American Flag. Photo taken at Memorial Day Ceremony by Alexandra Bogdanovic
American Flag. As seen at Memorial Day ceremony in Warrenton, Virginia. May 2011. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

In addition to information about the history of U.S. war dogs, provides a  list of the U.S. military dogs that have served in armed conflicts since the Civil War (including those presumed missing or left behind). There are too many to list here, so I will include those designated on the site as “killed in action.” They are:

  • Buster, World War II
  • Buck, German shepherd-mix, Vietnam
  • Royal19X8, German shepherd, Vietnam
  • Duke 383M, German shepherd, Vietnam
  • Clacker, German shepherd, Vietnam
  • Kreiger, German shepherd, Vietnam
  • Poncho, German shepherd, Vietnam
  • SSD Cooper, Yellow Lab (and his handler PFC Kory Wiens), Operation Iraqi Freedom

The Tribute to the War Dogs of the U.S. Military page also includes links to other resources that you can visit if you feel so inclined.

In the meantime, please take a moment to remember all of the fallen.