Two veterans organizations are planning to distribute USS John McCain T-shirts across the Washington, D.C.’s National Mall while President Donald Trump delivers his speech on the Fourth of July.
According to a report by The Hill, the action will be staged by VoteVets, a political action committee, and Rags of Honor, a screen printing organization providing employment and services to homeless veterans.
The two groups announced on June 21 that they will honor the late Republican senator in response to Trump’s public criticism against him.
Trump said in an interview last month he was “never a fan” of McCain, who died last August due to brain cancer, and never would be. Also during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had insulted the Vietnam veteran by saying: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
In late May, the Trump administration asked the warship to be hidden from view during the president’s visit to Japan.
Veterans will first gather outside the White House on July 4, then pass out the shirts on the National Mall throughout the day. The T-shirts are bearing a drawing of the Navy destroyer with its nickname, “Big Bad John.”
“Whether it was Sen. McCain, his father, his grandfather or his sons, the McCain family has given more to this country than most,” Mark Doyle, founder of Rags of Honor, was quoted as saying. “And America’s birthday seems like a great time to honor that service and sacrifice.”
The groups are also intending to hand out the T-shirts to members of Congress near the House of Representatives and Senate buildings.
Founded in 2006, VoteVets originally consisted of U.S. war veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The organization considers defense policy to be a priority for the nation. It aims to “educate the American public on the war and military issues, and hold politicians accountable.”
Among the matters it focuses on are “opening military service to life-long Americans born to undocumented immigrants” and “continued investment in care for veterans.” The group stated on its website that it has “over 600,000 supporters in all 50 states, including troops, veterans, military families, and their supporters.”
Rags of Honor employs veterans for producing garments and sends the proceeds earned from their sales directly to the veterans who are making them.
“At Rags of Honor we pay a living wage, offer continuing education and training and help our veterans with life skills that they need to continue their life’s journey with dignity,” the organization says. According to Rags of Honor, 300,000 American veterans were homeless for at least one night last year.