Donald Trump has been accused of being a great many things–a bully, a vulgarian, a misogynist and (if CNN is to be believed) a Russian agent so consumed with evil he makes Ernst Stavro Blofeld look like Saint Francis of Assisi. As we all know, however, people are rarely the caricatures they are made out to be, and it’s in those little, very human moments that we sometimes get a glimpse of the person underneath–the one away from the cameras and the flashbulbs, whom we rarely get to see.
The president had one of those moments the other day, when returning to Washington after his G20 meetings in Europe last week. After landing at Andrews Air Force Base, he walked across the tarmac to board Marine One for his flight back to the White House–and then this happened:
Wind from the helicopter’s rotors had blown the Marine guard’s cap off of his head, but since he was standing at attention in the presence of his commander in chief, we was unable to retrieve it. Trump, noticing the cap on the ground, took it upon himself to lend assistance. And what we have is probably the most genuine, uncontrived moment we have witnessed in what the media are trying so desperately to turn into a controversial presidency.
As you’d expect, Trump supporters are trying to spin this as a stark contrast to Barack Obama, who could barely be bothered to acknowledge the military. At the same time, the legions who dislike the president are either trying to ignore it or snickering that he broke some kind of protocol as the poor Marine just stood there because he couldn’t do anything.
But I think that both groups are probably missing the point. When presented with an opportunity to be of service–even though it was a small one–the president of the United States took it. That he rendered service to someone who was in a position to serve him makes that even more significant. In a culture where self-fulfillment is practically pushed as a virtue, we tend to forget how being of service is truly the highest calling. I’m not saying Donald Trump necessarily had that mind when he stopped to pick up a Marine’s cap, but that doesn’t diminish the example he set either.
Would that the rest of our leaders act accordingly.