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Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

There has been much talk about the President not being at Arlington Cemetery on this Memorial Day.  This commentary misses the mark.  President Lincoln captured the point:
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
There is much hallowed ground, from American cemeteries in Europe to American cemeteries in the Pacific.  My wife's late husband, Lieutenant Robert Harlan, lies in the waters off the coast of Okinawa, swallowed by the Pacific in a peacetime training accident—but a peacetime accident on the 179th day of a 90 day deployment of his F-4 squadron to Okinawa to replace an F-102 squadron that had deployed to Southeast Asia, as part of our commitment to the Republic of Viet-nam.  Hallowed water, hallowed ground.

There is my roommate from my first year at the Air Force Academy, Alan Trent, who died in an F-4D crash in Southeast Asia.  His body was never recovered.  Funnily enough, I drove past his childhood home town, Wadsworth, Ohio, on the way out to the Dayton area to visit my daughter.

There are so many opportunities to honor those who have given the last full measure, from Valley Forge to Arlington—any Arlington, in any State—and a hundred thousand other places.  I lived for seven years in Dumfries, Virginia.  During the run-up to the Battle of Gettysburg, Union Cavalry were stationed there.  The Union forces then moved west and north, as General Lee's Confederate forces moved west and then north from Fredericksburg, a little ways south, on the other side of the Rappahannock River.  I expect that Union troops may have traversed the area of my home from time to time.

There is much hallowed ground.

Regards  —  Cliff


ncrossland said...

I agree with your sentiment about "much hallowed ground" and perhaps even more than one realizes...including the waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic who hold the bodies of countless Americans.

And yet, for a Commander-in-Chief to NOT engage in the symbolism of visiting Arlington on Memorial in my mind an unforgivable sin.....and one that is not entirely surprising given this President's disgraceful apologetic utterances about America to the rest of the world. This is one more slap in the face of the American military people by a person...not a man my opinion.....who is not worthy to shine the boots of a recruit......let alone lead men and women in battle.

Having spoken my mind about this wretched is much, much, much less about him and his ilk than about the men and women who gave their lives so that people such as him can live...and do so freely.

In the end, today is much more about THEIR Duty, THEIR Honor, and the country for which they died. God bless them and keep them.

C R Krieger said...

I think our President did his duty on Memorial Day, even though Mother Nature prevented him from giving his speech.  The President went to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, one of our newer National Cemeteries.  It is built on part of the land that belonged to the the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant.

I like the idea of the President going to different National Cemeteries.  America is not just the area inside the Beltway, although sometimes those inside the Beltway forget that.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

I'd venture a guess, one of you got bent about the "flag pin," the other did not.

C R Krieger said...

Arlington itself is a big thing in many minds.  Here is one such view, sent via EMail:  "Your quoting Lincoln was interesting, but it missed the point.  Pres. Obama should have been at Arlington to show the families of the fallen that the Government cares."

My response was that the fallen, even the fallen of recent wars, have been buried in many National Cemeteries.  But, that said, the fallen and how we honor them is an issue that will not be easily resolved.

The good news is that we all care and feel strongly about showing it.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

My first duty station was with The Old Guard. You may not know this, but I've done a tour in Arlington, mostly firing party. I still weep at Taps.

The claptrap about boot shining is noxious. Reminds me of the 2008 campaign trail. I was called a traitor because I didn't support "their guy."

Excuse me, I must rinse the taste of stomach acid out of my mouth. brb

ncrossland said...

Jack, first things first. Good on you for your service with the Old Guard. That is a rare honor bestowed on a very few...and I am sure that you more than repaid their confidence in your selection.

Boot shining is MY opinion..and I am entitled to it...just as your choice not to follow "their guy" whoever "they" were is your choice, and you are entitled to it. I believe it all comes under the banner of freedom. We are ALL Americans here...and no one is BAD because of what they believe...even if it is counter to what you believe.

Or maybe it is just a myth that we are all free. Maybe we are only free if we agree with the current political rubric?? Otherwise, we (I) am a traitor. I have already been accused of being "seditious" because I disagree vehemently with what this current President does and says.

Now I need to go rinse the stomach acid from my esophagus.

C R Krieger said...


I knew you had been part of the Old Guard.  Did we serve at Ft McNair at the same time?

Jack and Neal

As for reflux, I recommend Prilosec.  It works for me.  That and not eating much after eight PM.

Regards  —  Cliff

Jack Mitchell said...

I was over at Ft. Myer from '86-'89. My travels rarely brought me to McNair. I do remember a rather shi-shi event with FLOTUS and Henry Kissinger that required a STRAC door opener.

I have few regrets in life, but one is not taking the opportunity afforded to me to "try out" to be a Tomb Sentinel. At that age, it didn't fully register how much of an honor it would have been to be allowed to secure such hallowed ground.

But as the cadence goes,
"Beer, Beer, Beer," say the Private.
What merry men are we.
There is none so fair that they can compare,
To the straight leg Infantry.

So to compensate for my youthful misjudgement, I pay honor by advocating for veterans and military families from a progressive point of view.