Barack Obama’s Bracelet

UPDATE: For the full recap, use the “Bracelet tag and see the whole sequence. The story has been confirmed.

Barack Obama’s bracelet is apparently not being worn with permission from the parents, and what he’s saying about it seems not to be true. The mother is no Cindy Sheehan.

This, in a fair world, should come back to bite him: During the debate on September 26, 2008, Barack Obama attempted to counter John McCain’s bracelet story. This was portrayed as “new” — but it is not: Senator Obama has been telling HIS bracelet story since the bracelet was given to him in February of 2008. (Even so, Senator Obama had to read the name from the bracelet during the debate.)

But there’s a difference: Senator Obama is apparently doing this against the parents’ will. He was specifically asked, according to Staff Sgt. Brian Jopek (Ryan’s father) to stop telling this story and to take the bracelet off.

Mrs. Jopek was an Obama supporter (at least in March of this year) and doesn’t want to sabotage the campaign, so she refused to give interviews. But I found an old radio interview with the father Brian Jopek (who served in Iraq and is now apparently serving at the Guantanamo base):

BRIAN JOPEK: Whatever is decided, we need to make sure that it benefits the American servicemen, and also the Iraqis.
* * *
We don’t wanna go back in there in ten years, at a greater cost and more lives.

I sure hope that, whoever is elected, Democrat or Republican, that they look at the big picture and don’t just pull up stakes — or “pop smoke” as we say in the military, because of the political atmosphere.”

Regarding Barack Obama: According to the father, Tracy Jopek wrote to the Senator: “She had asked him not to wear the bracelet.”

The WPR host — clearly anti-war (and quoting Lancet numbers of deaths) suggested that Obama had not worn it recently. This was months ago.

Here’s the clincher — Barack Obama is using the bracelet to support a position that his father (and Ryan Jopek himself) clearly do not subscribe to, and at the time even the mother that gave him the bracelet didn’t want it used in the media (that comment was made here) and asked him to take it off.

Brian and Tracy Jopek are now divorced. I don’t know what her current thoughts are. But this interview on WPR, from March 20, was interesting. The quotes here are from about 10 to 14 minutes in.

Here’s the WPR page containing the “Iraq War 5th Anniversary” interview from March 20:

===|==============/ Level Head

(Update: WPR, not NPR)

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  • edgar polo

    From ABC News: Stammering a bit as he appeared to be seeking the name on the bracelet on his wrist, Sen. Obama responded saying, “I’ve got a bracelet, too, from Sergeant, uh, from the mother of Sergeant Ryan David Jopek, given to me in Green Bay. She asked me, ‘Can you please make sure another mother is not going through what I’m going through?’ No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain because they’re carrying out the missions of their commander in chief. And we honor all the service that they’ve provided. Our troops have performed brilliantly. The question is for the next president: ‘Are we making good judgments about how to keep America safe? Precisely because sending our military into battle is such an enormous step.”

  • Hello, DevaDreamer, and welcome.

    Thanks for the info.

    You suggested that it wasn’t Ryan’s father’s right to tell Obama not to wear the bracelet. I sort of agree, while noting that Ryan was the son of both parents. But I had not suggested, nor does the radio interview say, that Brian asked him not to wear it. It simply reports that his mother asked him not to, after giving it to him.

    The Associated Press article — both versions — did confirm that aspect.

    I’ve certainly not attacked her here, nor would it occur to me to do so, and I’ve tried to be careful in what I have relayed. I also recognize that she is still, of course, an Obama supporter, and she certainly has the right to that!

    I’d enjoy being able to communicate with her directly. And her original notion (as I understand it) to help Senator Obama understand that Iraq is not one-sided issue I completely support.

    Nor do I hold Senator Obama accountable for the fact that Ryan’s father disagrees with his position; as you said, he did not meet the father. Nor could SSgt. Jopek, as active duty military, take an official stance with regard to a candidate for political office.

    But it seems that Senator Obama had not gotten Mrs. Jopek’s intended message when they met — and this seems to be because she was too emotional to talk during the meeting. I sympathize with that; my younger brother’s Navy flag from his funeral is on my mantle.

    I think what happened here is that, since she couldn’t say what she wanted to say, Senator Obama took a different message, namely that she was supporting his desire to exit immediately from Iraq. That crossed wire, as I understand it, led to her request not to use the bracelet as a talking point.

    It is possible, certainly, to support a candidate in general and disagree with one or more of his or her positions; I’m in that boat myself.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • devadreamer

    I am from Merrill, I went to school with Ryan and my family knows his. My brother-in-law just had a conversation with Ryan’s mom about this yesterday and she said (while giving him an Obama sign from the huge pile in her living room), that she was proud of Obama mentioning Ryan, and that Obama had called her to apologize if he had offended her, and she told him he had nothing to apologize for and that he had done well. This story fails to mention that it wasn’t Ryan’s father that stood in the cold for nearly an hour in order to give Obama the bracelet, it was his mother (and sister), and therefore not his right to tell Obama not to wear it.

  • I am intrigued by your omission from the extensive AP quotes the one that confirms that my article was correct.

    It is the first sentence: “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.”

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • Yes, Senator Obama is wearing a HeroBracelet in the name of SGT Jopek. The bracelet was presented to him by his mother.

    I am with and Senator McCain and President Bush have both been presented HeroBracelts by the mothers of fallen soldiers. Recently, other members of the Jopek family have ordered HeroBracelets to “read exactly like the bracelet Senator Obama is wearing.”

    So, from my direct experience, this is a non-issue. In addition, this is from an AP news story:

    “Tracy Jopek of Merrill told The Associated Press on Sunday she was honored that Obama remembered Sgt. Ryan David Jopek, who was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb. Jopek criticized Internet reports suggesting Obama, D-Ill., exploited her son for political purposes.
    “I don’t understand how people can take that and turn it into some garbage on the Internet,” she said.

    Jopek acknowledged e-mailing the Obama campaign in February asking that the presidential candidate not mention her son in speeches or debates. But she said Obama’s mention on Friday was appropriate because he was responding after Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, said a soldier’s mother gave him a bracelet.”

    Thousands are wearing HeroBracelets to honor the memories of soldiers and Marines they have never met and they do so out of respect. is a non-political organization that raises money through the bracelet sales for both the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Military Order of The Purple Heart.

  • Level_head

    “As subsequent events have shown, the original analysis was correct. She DID ask him not to wear it.”

    Unbelievable. She did NOT.

    “So she e-mailed the Obama campaign through its Web site asking that he not mention it during debates or speeches.”,0,6413408.story

    Reading is such a fundamental part of blogging. I just don’t understand how you can get this wrong. Or knowingly continue to lie about it. Even NOW she hasn’t asked him not to wear it.

    The word “ecstatic” was part of the original Associated Press story yesterday. It was the headline. I saw it in at least two online newspapers yesterday. If they’ve corrected, fine, but Obama internet types did not embellish it.

  • As to “keeping up with the right-wing pundits” — well, this story originated with me. And, had you looked around a bit, you might have seen that I had done an analysis of the AP reports before you arrived here.

    The Associated Press release confirms the point here. And it contains interesting new bits.

    She obviously forgives Barack Obama for his transgressions; she’s still a supporter. But at the same time, she confirmed those transgressions.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • tim

    Umm, you all might want to keep up with the news. Instead of the rightwing pundits.

    She now defends Obama wearing her bracelet. You best go back to saying he’s a Muslim Terrorist.

    In other words, Obama’s enemies…FAIL AGAIN.

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  • Magic Dog

    Um, I hate to burst your wingnut bubble, but you’d better read this:

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  • Please indicate any part of my post that was not “The Truth”.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • She certainly forgave Barack Obama. But she also confirmed the original story.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • KrisB9

    The Truth: Soldier’s mom defends Obama’s mention of bracelet:,0,6413408.story

  • KrisB9

    Lies from the Crooked Lies Express. The truth: Soldier’s mom defends Obama’s mention of bracelet.,0,6413408.story

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  • To #11:

    She could have subsequently said this, certainly. It will be interesting to her what the Obama campaign has to say.

    But certainly reporting what Ryan Jopek’s father said in a recorded interview is not speculation. He is not in favor of Barack Obama’s plan when Senator Obama is using his son’s name to support. He’s pleasant about it, but firm.

    It would be difficult, I think, to make the argument that the father’s wishes don’t count. But moreover, it is the mother’s wishes being reported on, from a man who was seen to go out of his way to be fair.

    She has been quoted in interviews. It will also be interesting to hear if she actually said what the interviews report. I have some experience with that, and would not be surprised if that turns out rather revisionist as well.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • republican fool

    according to his father

    Are your key words lets hear from the mother remember they are divorced and she could have told him to wear it. None of us know that for a fact or not so looks like we have alot of speculation going on.

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  • Thomas

    It appears that Obama ( hence forth known as Slick) is doing he can to bolster himself, by the way, am i the only one who saw the striking parralel to the Nazi Rally’s of the Zepplinf \fiels in Nurenberdg to Slicks adress at the end of the Democratic Convention in Denver?

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