It’s Memorial Day, 2010 and I finally saw something in the news worth repeating. It seems that the President of our country is in trouble yet again, for not being patriotic enough, and for not doing things the way some people think he should. One veteran’s group complained about him going to a national cemetery in Illinois while the VP went to Arlington. I’ve never understood how the role of Commander-In-Chief works because — at least for Democratic presidents — there has been quite a bit of compliants through the ranks of the military that, I think, if their local Commander had to endure he (or, less likely, she) wouldn’t do so for long without severe punishment. I believe in freedom of speech, and I know they defend others’ freedom of speech, but I have never understood the military to be all that into it within the ranks. After a person’s out, they can say anything they want, I think, and it’s OK with me if they say it while in, but I just can’t imagine an enlisted person making a public snicker about their CO and living to tell about it. Extrapolating from that, saying something or making a “guffaw” about their CO’s CO is just plain strange. But, I digress. What I wanted to highlight today is this statement by another Veteran’s group: (This is taken from Yahoo news):
“Jay Agg, a spokesman for the veterans group AMVETS, said the annual ceremony at Arlington is “the ideal place for the president to observe Memorial Day. However, his choice to honor our fallen at another national cemetery as other presidents have done is entirely appropriate.” In an e-mail, Agg accused some people of using the day “as an opportunity to score cheap political points on the backs of our veterans and in doing so dishonor them and distract from the true meaning and purpose of Memorial Day.”
Yes!!!!!!!! Finally, somebody against partisan bickering, cheap political points, stupid sound bites and so on and so on!!! Make this man president of something! Make him head of the Joint Chiefs! HE is what America is all about, in it’s heart.
I’m not against discourse, politics, free speech, or important ideas by any means. And, in fact, I find it weird that Obama’s not at Arlington myself. I guess I’d forgotten that we had other National cemeteries. But cheap, spiteful, vindictive, speech over what is essentially the President’s choice cheapens the very Freedom of Speech we claim to treasure. It’s being mean just to be mean and petty just because we can be. We have all kinds of rights in this country, and I support the fact that we have them for so many good reasons. But I’m also aware that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. We waste so many words and so much on time on non-issues and to prove how clever we are as partisan folks. By doing so, we only prove our stupidity and neglect the things that actually are important. I’m sick of clever. I’m sick of hyperboly. I’m sick of propaganda because I love actually smart, the strength of reality, and the truth inherent in the good argument. I long for the day when we can rid ourselves of “spin doctors” who tell us what reality means in the same way that I long for actual justice over that thing the lawyers fight for.
All of which leads me to my final point on this Memorial Day: I hate war. I hate the idea of war. I hate the idiots who follow blindly into war and I hate even more the psychopaths who go to war on a whim or because of their own love of power. I hate dictators and I hate demagogues who spill human blood that isn’t their own. I have a friend who hates “cheap grace”. I hate the cheap spillage of blood. No object on earth is worth killing people over — whether it be oil, land, or anything else.
Having said that, there are brave people of every place on earth that defend others and defend their rights so that they can grow up as free as the people they were meant to me. Some of them do this with arms. Those people are who I believe in on Memorial Day. Those people deserve everything that they need to do whatever is right. Those people deserve to be remembered for their heroism. Those people –pure of heart and conscience — are a joy to be around, even if I don’t always like what they have to do. It is these true heroes and heroines that make those other people look like thin comparisons. Snide “patriots” like to believe they’re the real thing. Real Patriots make all of us understand just how patriotic they are without ever having to say a thing. On this day, I am honored to know people who are the genuine article and appalled by the people (including myself sometimes) who aren’t. May we be our best selves on this day and every other one we’re given.