Washington, (IANS) US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accepted a Purple Heart from a military veteran during a rally on Tuesday, saying it was “much easier” to receive the medal as a gift than by serving in combat.
Trump said Lt Col Louis Dorfman gave him his actual Purple Heart, but an NBC reporter was told the one given to the candidate was a replica, the Independent reported.
The Republican candidate, who is locked in a bitter public dispute with the family of a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq, attracted fresh criticism for his off-hand response accepting an honour bestowed upon soldiers wounded in combat and joking about how easily he received his.
“I fought in Iraq, was injured, and was awarded a Purple Heart,” Sean Barney, a Delaware congressional candidate wounded in Iraq, tweeted. “No one should ever want a Purple Heart.”
The mother of US Army National Guard Sgt Patrick McCaffrey accused Trump of making light of the honour.
“Well, people have the freedom of speech and the freedom of action, so whoever gave that Purple Heart to Mr Trump is, you know, it’s his decision not mine,” Nadia McCaffrey told CNN.
“To me, a Purple Heart is sacred for what it represents and should not be given to anyone who didn’t deserve one.”
His rival Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also mocked Trump on twitter.
“This from a man who says he’s ‘sacrificed’ for our country,” she tweeted.
Trump’s acceptance of the veteran’s Purple Heart comes amid his feud with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Gold Star parents whose son Humayun Khan was killed in action in 2004 while serving in Iraq, the Independent reported.
Khan rebuked the Republican nominee during a speech at the Democratic National Convention last Thursday.
“You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” he said, addressing Trump while holding pocket-sized version of the US Constitution.
In response, Trump said he “made a lot of sacrifices”, citing the numerous “great structures” he built.
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving with the US military.