Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thoughts as we approach Memorial Day

By Walter Haan,

Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend. I've written before about things we shouldn't do on Memorial Day, such as racing to the stores for sale events. I think the holiday and weekend should be more respectful than that.

People disrespect the holiday, and by doing that, disrespect our fallen servicemen and women, all living veterans and current members of our military. Perhaps it shouldn't be called a holiday. That just sounds too festive.

Over Memorial Day weekend we'll see national leaders such as President Bush and Vice President Cheney, men who refused to serve in the active military alongside other Americans, disrespect the very people they're pretending to honor by laying wreathes at memorials around the country. Bush was a member of the reserves but his poor behavior and lack of responsibility are well documented.

I think it would make a lot more sense to have ordinary veterans and current service members laying those wreathes at the Tomb of the Unknowns, for example. These would be people who know what it is really like to serve their country.

I saw a picture on the BBC Web Site last month that illustrates the disrespect of service men and women that I'm talking about. The photo also illustrates that we don't have a monopoly in this matter. The photo was of the new Spanish Defense Minister, Carme Chacon, Spain's first woman in the post, reviewing troops in Madrid. She was seven months pregnant in the photo and wore slacks, a casual maternity top and an open casual jacket. The troops were standing at attention in dress uniforms while this woman who looked as if she just stepped out of the supermarket reviewed them. It would be like Cheney reviewing American troops in a golf jacket and sweat pants, which I think he is capable of. My first reaction when I saw the photo of Chacon was, "Put on a dress, for God's sake. Or a tailored, maternity suit."

But she went casual, which I think really illustrates what most citizens around the world really think those who serve in the military really rate: casual, careless, offhand recognition.

Taking the sacrifices of our American military members, past and present, casually, is just poor citizenship on the part of the American public.--Copyright 2008 by Walter Haan,


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