Yesterday, people pointed out that Barack Obama had been asked to stop wearing the bracelet of Sgt. Ryan Jopek by his mother Tracy, who had given it to him early this year but had second thoughts about his using it as part of his campaign speeches. The Associated Press got in touch with Tracy Jopek, who confirmed that but also said she had no problem with Obama’s use of the bracelet in the debate:
After Tracy Jopek gave Sen. Barack Obama a bracelet in honor of her son who was killed in Iraq, she asked Obama not to mention the bracelet on the campaign trail.
But Jopek told The Associated Press on Sunday that she’s satisfied with how Obama discussed it during last week’s presidential debate. …
“His response in the debate was exactly that, a response, after John McCain put it out there first,” she said. “I think it was an appropriate response — he was just saying there’s another side to the story, there’s two different viewpoints.”
Ms. Jopek also said her ex-husband mischaracterized her viewpoint during his interview on a Wisconsin public radio talk show. She asked Obama to stop talking about the bracelet out of respect for the feelings of other Gold Star families who still support the war. She was afraid the issue would get exploited by anti-war groups, and apparently she doesn’t want to become the next Cindy Sheehan. Ryan’s father Brian may feel differently about his son’s sacrifice (Brian is currently stationed in Guantanamo Bay), but Brian Jopek didn’t give Obama the bracelet.
We can criticize Obama for his delivery and for forgetting Jopek’s name in that moment of the debate, but Obama didn’t disrespect Tracy Jopek’s wishes.