Donald Trump said Tuesday that he has always wanted to receive a Purple Heart, a military decoration awarded to those who were wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. military.
Before his rally in Ashburn, Va., Trump said a veteran gave him his “real” Purple Heart (although a reporter at the event said the man told her it was a copy). “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart,” Trump told the crowd, holding it up to show them. “This was much easier.”
Trump’s comment came one day after a New York Times report found he received five deferments exempting him from military service in Vietnam: one 1-Y medical deferment for heel spurs and four for education.
Trump’s lack of military service has also been in the news recently in light of his feud with the Khans, Muslim Gold Star parents who lost their son in Iraq in 2004. “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard,” Trump said after father Khizr Kahn said Trump had “sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton pointed to his “sacrifices” comment on Twitter when she responded to the Purple Heart comment. “This from a man who says he’s ‘sacrificed’ for our country,” she said.
Several recent presidential candidates received the Purple Heart—John McCain, John Kerry and Bob Dole—as did John F. Kennedy.
Trump is not the only man to run for office who avoided military service during Vietnam; President George W. Bush served in the Air National Guard and President Bill Clinton signed up for ROTC to avoid the draft.
In 1997, Trump said on the Howard Stern Show that avoiding sexually transmitted diseases in the dating scene was “my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” He also has said he “always felt that I was in the military,” because he attended a military boarding school, the New York Times reports.