An exchange from the September 26, 2008 presidential debate:
MCCAIN: And I'll tell you, I had a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and a woman stood up and she said, "Senator McCain, I want you to do me the honor of wearing a bracelet with my son's name on it."
He was 22 years old and he was killed in combat outside of Baghdad, Matthew Stanley, before Christmas last year. This was last August, a year ago. And I said, "I will -- I will wear his bracelet with honor."
And this was August, a year ago. And then she said, "But, Senator McCain, I want you to do everything -- promise me one thing, that you'll do everything in your power to make sure that my son's death was not in vain."
That means that that mission succeeds, just like those young people who re-enlisted in Baghdad, just like the mother I met at the airport the other day whose son was killed. And they all say to me that we don't want defeat.
A war that I was in, where we had an Army, that it wasn't through any fault of their own, but they were defeated. And I know how hard it is for that -- for an Army and a military to recover from that. And it did and we will win this one and we won't come home in defeat and dishonor and probably have to go back if we fail.
OBAMA: Jim, let me just make a point. I've got a bracelet, too, from Sergeant - from the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopeck (ph), given to me in Green Bay. She asked me, can you please make sure another mother is not going through what I'm going through.
Warner Todd Huston of NewsBusters has the story behind Obama's bracelet:
Barack Obama played the "me too" game during the Friday debates on September 26 after Senator John McCain mentioned that he was wearing a bracelet with the name of Cpl. Matthew Stanley, a resident of New Hampshire and a soldier that lost his life in Iraq in 2006. Obama said that he too had a bracelet. After fumbling and straining to remember the name, he revealed that his had the name of Sergeant Ryan David Jopek of Merrill, Wisconsin.
Shockingly, however, Madison resident Brian Jopek, the father of Ryan Jopek, the young soldier who tragically lost his life to a roadside bomb in 2006, recently said on a Wisconsin Public Radio show that his family had asked Barack Obama to stop wearing the bracelet with his son's name on it. Yet Obama continues to do so despite the wishes of the family.
Radio host Glenn Moberg of the show "Route 51" asked Mr. Jopek, a man who believes in the efforts in Iraq and is not in favor of Obama's positions on the war, what he and his ex-wife think of Obama continually using their son's name on the campaign trail. (h/t D. Keith Howington of www.dehavelle.com)
Jopek began by saying that his ex-wife was taken aback, even upset, that Obama has made the death of her son a campaign issue. Jopek says his wife gave Obama the bracelet because "she just wanted Mr. Obama to know Ryan's name." Jopek went on to say that "she wasn't looking to turn it into a big media event" and "just wanted it to be something between Barack Obama and herself." Apparently, they were all shocked it became such a big deal.
But, he also said that his ex-wife has refused further interviews on the matter and that she wanted Obama to stop wearing the reminder of her son's sacrifice that he keeps turning into a campaign soundbyte.
Why would Obama be so callous and self-serving, disregarding the wishes of the Jopek family?
How, in good conscience, could Obama so completely disrespect Ryan's memory after the family made it clear that the bracelet and Ryan's name were not to be used as a political prop?
This is not the way someone who understands service and sacrifice would behave.
(h/t Sykes Writes)
UPDATE: "Soldier's Mother 'Ecstatic' about Obama's Bracelet"
Ben Smith writes:
Obama has been criticized from the right today for mentioning a bracelet given him by a slain soldier's mother whose ex-husband later said she didn't want Obama talking about it.
But the mother tells the AP that she was "ecstatic" about the mention.
According to the Associated Press:
The mother of a Wisconsin soldier who died in Iraq says she was "ecstatic" during Friday's debate when Senator Barack Obama mentioned the bracelet she gave him in honor of her son.
Tracy Jopek of Merrill told The Associated Press on Sunday she was honored that he remembered Sgt. Ryan David Jopek, who was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb.
She criticized Internet reports that suggested Obama exploited her son for political purposes.
She acknowledges e-mailing the campaign in February asking that Obama not mention her son in speeches or debates.
But she says Obama's mention on Friday was appropriate because he was responding after Senator John McCain said a soldier's mother gave him a bracelet.
Jopek says Obama's comment rightfully suggested there's more than one viewpoint on the war.
If Mrs. Jopek is ecstatic that Obama mentioned her son's name, that's great.
What matters is that the family is OK with what Obama did.
However, Mrs. Jopek does admit that she told the campaign to "not mention her son in speeches or debates."
She does not say that Obama asked permission to use her son's name prior to the debate.
Even though Mrs. Jopek wasn't troubled by Obama's use of her son's name in a debate, Obama clearly went against the family's wishes as he knew them to be. Obama didn't know that the mother would be "ecstatic." To the contrary, Obama disregarded her previous communication to the campaign.
Obama gambled and showed tremendous insensitivity. He got lucky Mrs. Jopek reacted the way she did.