Watertown Daily Times
August 14, 2018


Representatives of Fort Drum have once again confronted the enormous challenge of having their boss drop by for a few hours.

President Donald Trump visited the Army post in the north country Monday afternoon. He was accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and greeted by military and community leaders.

U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, invited Mr. Trump to visit Fort Drum earlier this year. In his remarks Monday to soldiers on the post as well as local dignitaries, the president thanked her for helping to pass the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. He signed the bill into law while at Fort Drum.

Many elected officials from the north country attended a reception before the arrival of Air Force One. The guest list included state Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, and members of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators.

The logistics involved in transporting the president and vice president are truly mind-boggling. Fort Drum had to make room for numerous limousines, sedans and SUVs. Then, there were the countless law enforcement vehicles on site.

The security presence was everywhere. Visitors to the post for Mr. Trump’s appearance could easily spot members of the U.S. Secret Service, military police, state troopers and sheriff’s deputies from Jefferson County.

While all conducted themselves in a friendly manner, they took their jobs seriously. Ensuring the president, vice president, elected officials and Fort Drum soldiers enjoyed a secure environment was their sole focus.

Mr. Trump’s plane, Air Force One, landed just after 2 p.m. at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. Mr. Pence’s plane, Air Force Two, had landed shortly before 1:30 p.m.

A caravan of vehicles was employed to greet both the president and the vice president. Fort Drum substantially increased its carbon footprint this day.

It’s tempting to question whether the money and personnel are worth such an endeavor. Moving Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence to Northern New York for a portion of the afternoon is outrageously expensive. And all those involved in planning this visit certainly had much better ways to spend their time.

But while doubts can always be raised, this type of event has great value. The U.S. president holds the most responsible job of anyone in the world, and keeping him safe is essential. This requires vast resources.

In addition to serving as the chief executive of the federal government, Mr. Trump is commander in chief. The decisions he makes profoundly affect the lives of the women and men in the military along with their families.

A visit from the president boosts the morale of all those at Fort Drum. Their work is critical to safeguarding our homeland and preserving our freedoms. Having Mr. Trump come to the north country to review the troops and express his gratitude for everything they do definitely lifted their spirits.

It’s important that the president connects with those he commands. Mr. Trump’s visit will be an experience that everyone at Fort Drum who saw him will never forget. And for people who put their lives on the line throughout the year, receiving a pat on the back by their commander is a modest price for us as a nation to pay.