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.