A Gold Star mother, whose son was killed in the terrorist attack at the Kabul airport, has shared her encounter with President Joe Biden during the Memorial Day observance.
On August 26, 2021, a bomber set off an explosion at Kabul's international airport, resulting in the death of 13 American soldiers, including Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Christian Knauss. His mother, Paula Knauss Selph, who serves as the executive director of the Respect and Remember Foundation, met President Biden in the Oval Office. This meeting occurred at an event for Gold Star families in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day in 2022.
“There’s been a lot of grief, a lot of grief,” she told The Daily Mail. “There’s nothing like watching your child die in front of you, in front of the world.”
When she met Biden, he stated, “I can understand if you’re angry.”
"I stood face-to-face with him, eyeball-to-eyeball. I began to weep," she recounted, and went on to say that she told him, "It should have never happened this way."
Reflecting on his reaction, she said, "He stood there stoically. Nothing out of his mouth except — well would you like to get a photo with me?"
Selph told Biden that she would only agree to take a picture with him if he joined her at her son's tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery. In response, she said Biden told her, "I can't do that because Secret Service won't let me do that."
"It's a moral disgrace for a president not to have mercy on the people that he serves. It is a moral disgrace," Selph stated, going on to express her belief that Biden perceived the "sad occasion" as a "photo op'" instead of a chance to console a mother in mourning.
“He had the chance to make a difference for my child. On not making decisions and indecisions that cost him his life. And I do hold him accountable,” she concluded.
“Ryan, all of his life was quite certain he wanted to go in the armed forces,” Selph said of her son, who was a member of the JROTC cadet program before serving in the military. “And it is a pleasing thing to me. But throughout his life, he kept that focus. He was so disciplined. He was so smart. … He was protecting and giving us the opportunity for many people to live out the American dream. That’s what will long outlive all of us.”
The Respect and Remember Foundation outlines three primary objectives: First, to motivate JROTC and ROTC Cadets by awarding merit scholarships as they complete their education and enter the military directly; second, to back active duty military members stationed overseas through the provision of care packages, welcome home baskets, and holiday opportunities for active military personnel and their families; and third, to collaborate with organizations led by veterans in an effort to bring veterans together, assisting in their transition to civilian life, and working to address the high incidence of suicide among the veteran community by encouraging support from fellow veterans.