MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS AT ARLINGTON…. Following up on an item from the weekend, President Obama will honor Memorial Day at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside Chicago, while Vice President Biden appears at Arlington National Cemetery. This has, apparently, offended some prominent right-wing voices.
Fox News’ Glenn Beck said the president “has decided not to honor our troops on Memorial Day.” Far-right blogger and CNN contributor Erick Erickson called the president’s plan’s “offensive.”
There are, of course, several problems with this nonsensical attack, beyond the obvious fact that Obama will honor the troops, Beck’s inanity notwithstanding. There’s also the fact that several modern presidents have attended Memorial Day events outside of Arlington.
What’s more, CBS News’ Peter Maer noted other Obama efforts, which haven’t generated as much attention.
Like his predecessors, Mr. Obama has expressed deep feelings about the troops in both words and deeds, often with as little fanfare as the presidency allows. Like other presidents, he meets privately with the families of the fallen. He watches developments in the buildup in Afghanistan and the planned drawdown in Iraq.
Unlike other presidents, he paid a middle of the night somber visit to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the return of dead soldiers.
Perhaps the most eloquent statement on Mr. Obama’s stand on the military comes from Gold Star Mother Carol Barbieri of Maryland. Her son, Army Specialist and paratrooper Thomas “TJ” Barbieri, was killed in Iraq in 2006.
TJ’s brothers Stephen and Matthew were visiting his grave at Arlington on Veterans Day last year when Mr. Obama stopped to pay his respects. He asked about their loved one and expressed his appreciation for the sacrifice.
When Obama went to Arlington a year ago, he did something his predecessor did not — he visited the graves in Arlington’s Section 60, where troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.
Reflecting on the president visiting an Illinois cemetery today, Barbieri told CBS, “Our heroes are interred all over the nation. The President of the United States should be remembering and honoring the men and women who have fought for this country. It doesn’t matter where he does that as long as he never forgets them.”
It’s a simple message that even Beck and Erickson should be able to understand.