What Did Trump Say About Ryan Owens in His Address To Congress?
One of the more emotional moments from President Trump's address to Congress on Tuesday evening consisted of the tribute Trump gave about Ryan Owens. Owens was a Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer who was killed during a counterterrorism raid in Yemen last month. Owens' wife, Carryn, was in the audience during Trump's speech, and sat directly next to Ivanka Trump.
Toward the end of his address, Trump began introducing the special guests he had invited to attend his speech. After briefly extolling the importance of increasing defense spending, Trump introduced Carryn and asserted that her husband had died as a "hero" and "warrior."
Trump went on to further praise Owens, saying he had spoken with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who had the following to say about Owens and his service to the United States.
Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy.
After sharing Mattis' comments, Trump continued delivering his own praise for the fallen Navy SEAL, moving Owens' widow, Carryn, as well as several audience members, to tears. Audience members also applauded and gave a standing ovation. In his tribute, he stated:
Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity ... And Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record [for applause]. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country and for our freedom. And we will never forget Ryan.
Following his homage to Owens, Trump shared his views on American values and its role in the world, as well as on the responsibilities of its allies before concluding his speech.
While the tribute was certainly moving and marked one of the only times in which members of both political parties in the room stood to applaud, many have pointed out that there is far more detail to the Owens story than what was portrayed by Trump during his speech.
According to Vox, Trump authorized the botched January raid that led to Owens' death, as well as that of 25 Yemeni civilians, including an 8-year-old child. In the weeks that followed, Trump received extensive criticism for the raid, which appeared hastily planned, exceedingly expensive, and which had seemingly resulted in little counter terrorism intelligence, according to NBC. The Pentagon refutes those claims, alleging that the raid resulted in "actionable intelligence."
Trump also shirked responsibility for the incident, blaming both the Obama administration and the military for planning the raid. This constitutes a break with tradition, as presidents, who also serve as commander-in-chief of the U.S. army, typically take responsibility for failed military raids.
According to Vox, Owens' father, Bill, was angry about the way in which the raid was carried out and refused to meet with Trump after his son's body was delivered to a U.S. military base.
Thus, while Trump's tribute to Owens during his address to Congress was certainly moving, and while Owens absolutely was a hero, some people are uncomfortable with the words Trump delivered during his speech since they appear disingenuous in light of what occurred during the raid. Some Twitter users are criticizing the President for what they perceive as Trump "exploiting Owens' death" or using him as a political ploy. However, others are extensively praising Trump's tribute to Owens and the military during his prime-time address.
Whatever people's feelings on Trump's tribute, everyone likely agrees that Owens was courageous in his service to his country. Trump's courageousness and decision-making skills, however, are certainly up for debate.