Arlington Snub

Driving down I-65 in Kentucky this morning, I heard the news that President Obama will forgo the traditional Memorial Day observance at Arlington’s Tomb of the Unknowns in favor of a short vacation in Chicago.  My first reaction was disbelief, but that was soon replaced by fury.  Recall please the reaction when George W. Bush decided that as long as our troops were fighting a war, he would cease with the Presidential golf games.  He was roundly mocked and denounced.  Keith Olberman got his boxers in a bunch and raged that we had brave troops giving everything on the battlefield and all Bush could sacrifice was his golf game.  Last year, Obama left Arlington and went straightway to the golf course and not a peep of indignation was heard from the left, the stimulus evidently having funded enough starch to keep their boxers unbunched.  And now that the President has turned his back on Arlington, I distinctly hear the sound not of protest from Olberman, Matthews, et al, but of silence.  Silence from the left, and of course the silence of our war dead, who gave their lives so that we could use our voices for good.  

I can’t presume to speak for all veterans, but I can speak for myself and the few vets I’ve talked with this morning.  As you read these words, the  very best that this country has to offer is thousands of miles away wearing a flak vest, kevlar helmet, and enough extraneous gear to hobble a mule, fighting for you.  They know that all it takes is one sniper’s bullet, one I.E.D, one command by the little gargoyle in North Korea, and they go from Veteran’s Day to Memorial Day.  Their families will bury them, their children will suffer immeasurably, and they will be dead.  The reality for our people in harm’s way is that they must deploy, but they don’t have to come home.  For those that are killed, we set aside one day a year to grieve and honor their selfless devotion to us, and our Commander in Chief will not deign to set foot in Arlington.  

On the one hand, it is tempting to observe that it is better after all to have someone preside over the ceremony who actually cares.  In that sense, Obama has at least acted honestly.   And he will attend a ceremony at a cemetary in the Chicago area.   But for a President whose troops are at war to prefer a vacation to the profound and profoundly moving honor of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the only word I can muster for our polite readers is …despicable. Utterly despicable.  Mr. President, the contempt is mutual.

As for me, I am on my way home precisely so I can stand and salute when the rifles fire and taps is played, and I will remember the fallen, pray for their families, and thank God for a country that raises such extraordinary people. 

  1. Ursula Hennessey
    C

    Well said, Dave, as usual. This just heightens my fear for my children’s future here in America. I suspect that they’ll grow up in a world where loving this country (including the corollary elements of respecting the flag, honoring servicemen, memorizing relevant history facts, feeling pride in traditions, etc.) will be uncool and, frankly, optional. I guess we’re sort of there already, aren’t we?

  2. Duane Oyen

    Actually, David, the official response has been heard. My old high school friend, a philosophy professor at a mediocre Midwestern university who learns what all of his political views are supposed to be from NYT, HuffPo, and Paul Krugman columns, told me last week that, after saying that, Bush stopped golfing for a while but eventually played again, so he was a phony and the Obama issue goes away.

    See how easy that was!

  3. Karen

    I agree with you. My husband’s grandmother is buried at Arlington in Section 59. On a recent visit to her gravesite, I looked over at Section 60 and was reminded of the great sacrifice of the fallen and the great sadness of those loved ones left behind. It is something so distressful and sad to walk among the headstones and see engraved birth years in the 1980′s and even 1990′s. The least Obama could do is take the time to recognize their service. I really can’t articulate my disgust with this administration.

  4. F. L. Booth

    Dave.. I’ve read several comments about Obama missing the Arlington tribute that were written by “professional commenters.” You said it better than all.. thanks for the always interesting, insightful and often thought provoking “words from the road.”

  5. Scott Erickson

    The wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns is one of the most moving rituals of honor and remembrance in our nation. It is not simply a matter of proper protocol for the President of the United States to participate in such a ceremony on Memorial Day, but rather it should be viewed as the distinct honor and obligation of the Commander in Chief to mark this day of national remembrance through his presence at our nation’s most hallowed ground; Arlington National Cemetery.

  6. Duane Oyen
    Ottoman Umpire

    Duane Oyen:: My old high school friend, a philosophy professor at a mediocre Midwestern university who learns what all of his political views are supposed to be from NYT, HuffPo, and Paul Krugman columns, told me last week that, after saying that, Bush stopped golfing for a while but eventually played again, so he was a phony and the Obama issue goes away.

    See how easy that was! · May. 26 at 10:28am

    Duane – I’m an avid follower of your posts, but am having a pretty difficult time teasing apart your last sentence. Would it be possible to restate it? · May. 26 at 12:53pm

    Hi, Ottoman- I was sardonically stating that, since in the eyes of my lefty friends, The Evil Bush may have played golf again (they offer no evidence for any of this) a few years after declining earlier out of respect for the troops, there is obviously then a fine reciprocal moral equivalency with Obama blowing off Memorial Day so he can get in a few holes. Sorry for being a bit obtuse; I knew what I meant even if I didn’t state it clearly!

  7. Brian

    Dave, Thanks. I spent 21 years in the U.S. Navy and am not one who is able to articulate much about my patriotism, although I have learned to try to do so this past year. I saw a few lines in the news about Obama neglecting Arlington this weekend, but your words have meaning and accuracy. I appreciate your taking the time to write them.

    Have a wonderful Memorial Day with your family.

  8. Ottoman Umpire
    Hi, Ottoman- I was sardonically stating that, since in the eyes of my lefty friends, The Evil Bush may have played golf again (they offer no evidence for any of this) a few years after declining earlier out of respect for the troops, there is obviously then a fine reciprocal moral equivalency with Obama blowing off Memorial Day so he can get in a few holes. Sorry for being a bit obtuse; I knew what I meant even if I didn’t state it clearly! · May. 26 at 2:37pm

    Thanks, Duane. I was hoping that your leftist friend might see the double standard.

  9. Ottoman Umpire

    Duane Oyen:: My old high school friend, a philosophy professor at a mediocre Midwestern university who learns what all of his political views are supposed to be from NYT, HuffPo, and Paul Krugman columns, told me last week that, after saying that, Bush stopped golfing for a while but eventually played again, so he was a phony and the Obama issue goes away.

    See how easy that was! · May. 26 at 10:28am

    Duane – I’m an avid follower of your posts, but am having a pretty difficult time teasing apart your last sentence. Would it be possible to restate it?

  10. Charles Allen

    Like Dave, my first reaction is that “it is better after all to have someone preside over the ceremony who actually cares.”

    It is disappointing that in deference those service members and their families who have sacrificed it all, and even to those who suffer months and years apart, in the service of their nation, that the President cannot forgo even a bit of his vacation for a simple but meaningful ceremony.

    I know it must be tiring flying to California to hold political fundraisers, put on the glitz for foreign leaders who thumb their nose at us, host champion and hopeful sports teams, and sitting down with TNT to opine about basketball. It is time for a vacay.

    Maybe when he gets back he might travel down to Tennessee and visit the flood victims as well….