Tribute to Carryn Owens

Liz Kacher, Staff Writer

In the time following President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress, I have noticed the media remains fixated on the tribute to Navy Seal widow, Carryn Owens, by President Trump. Not because the moment was a captivating tribute to the sacrifice of her late husband, but because the moment seemed like a political play to gain approval points after a rocky first month of his presidency.

The emotional high point of Trump’s first address was criticized by his opponents as exploitative of Owens’ widow. I am frustrated a beautiful tribute to an American soldier and his sacrifice for our country couldn’t go without its’ critics.

The president led the audience of his first address to a long-lasting standing ovation for the widow of Navy SEAL William ‘Ryan’ Owens for over two straight minutes. The applause was a moment  many Americans have long awaited — the chance to mourn the heroes of the war against terror, who have rarely been honored properly or publicly, because the war has been politicized for a great length of time.

White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, recounted the story of how Owens became part of Trump’s joint address to Congress last Wednesday, in a briefing with reporters. The Washington Post reports that Owens’ invitation by President Trump came on Jan. 30, the day after her husband was killed in a raid on an al-Qaeda stronghold in Yemen. After 10 days in office, President Trump called Carryn Owens to express his condolences and to offer an invitation she accepted at a later time.

President Trump’s speech allowed Americans the chance to celebrate those who have died for a cause that has largely unspoken of to the public—the war on terror.

— Liz Kacher

“Our goal was to make sure that we respected her wishes and her privacy,” Spicer said. “Even with referencing her in the speech, that was her decision. We asked her, ‘The president would like to raise this,’ and she said, ‘I’d like that.’”

Trump’s intention to shed light on Owens’ sacrifice was not a last minute decision to increase his approval ratings — contrary to what many media outlets have portrayed. The tribute was meant to focus entirely on Carryn Owens and the memory of her late husband. He had never intended on using the moment to further his agenda, but rather he had intended on giving Ryan Owens and his family the recognition they deserved for Ryan’s sacrifice.

Critics of the tribute site the raid itself as the reason the moment was exploitative of Owens’ widow. One of those critics includes Former NSA analyst John Schindler, who tweeted that Trump publicly exploited the widow.  On March 5, he joined Jesse Watters on “Watters’ World” to try to defend his offensive comments.

“I have no problem with the president honoring Mrs. Owens. What I have a problem with is hours before, he had passed the buck and said they — meaning the senior military leadership — had gotten her husband killed. They lost him is what they literally said,” Schindler said, also a columnist for

Schindler was largely wrong in his comments. The tribute was not about the raid itself, it was about the sacrifice Owens and many other American soldiers have made for the freedom of the American people.

I believe the raid itself is important for the American people to know about, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for someone like Schindler to politicize such a moment. This moment wasn’t about whether or not the raid in Yemen was successful or who is to blame for the loss of Owens’ life. The moment was about Ryan and other American soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the American people.

I want to emphasize that my article is not about whether the raid in Yemen was successful or not. This article isn’t about who was to blame for the loss of Ryan’s life. I just want you, the reader, to see  the emotional highpoint of Trump’s speech wasn’t a political play but rather a touching tribute to those who have lost their lives when fighting the war on terror.

President Trump’s speech allowed Americans the chance to celebrate those who have died for a cause that has largely unspoken of to the public—the war on terror. The moment that President Trump recognized the sacrifice of Ryan Owens, was a moment that clearly transcended politics. It was a moment of unity, allowing America to move forward.

Liz Kacher is a staff writer for   The Dakota Student. She can be reached at  [email protected]