No doubt, many of you have read the news stories today, as I am sure you do every day. This one in particular involves the last remaining WWI veteran passing away and a refusal from some government officials to allow him to lie in state in the Rotunda. I DO understand that this is generally reserved for past presidents and elected officials. However, there are exceptions to this rule and several have happened in the last 15 or so years. Several DC police officers were afforded this honor in the late 90’s, and most recently, Rosa Parks in 2008 (I think it was 2008, anyway). Mind you, Rosa Parks was a civilian. Remember that we have let civilians lie in state, and while it is not common, it is not forbidden, either. Now, WWI was named “The War to End All Wars” and “The Great War”. It was a messy, terrible, awful bloodbath–not just for American forces (who lost a relatively few number of soldiers), but for all sides. Russian leaders were said to have laughed at American officials when they spoke of how terrible the toll was for American soldiers–Russian estimates for their dead in WWI top 1 million. The last remaining soldier from WWI has passed away, ladies and gentlemen, and what does this nation afford him? Less than a civilian. That’s right. We have sunk that low in our respect toward veterans that the remaining one from “The Great War” cannot be afforded this honor. (But don’t worry, we gave it to the black lady who “started” the civil rights movement! We’re not racist or anything! Look at how TOLERANT we are, world!) He was not a civilian–he was an enlisted man. He left his home and fought for what he felt was right, literally willing to give his life for the good of his country to die in a strange land. Ms. Parks? Well, some would say she did what was “right” but, in reality, all she did was refuse to stand up on a bus. Not alot of danger–just some scorn. Lots of people do that. Why was she honored? Because of her race? Well, that would be racism, now, wouldn’t it? Because of her role in the civil rights movement? She didn’t play that big a role. I cannot figure this one out for the life of me.
This isn’t about racism. This is about the shocking lack of respect that some government [blood sucking] vermin show him and all other veterans. I would be astounded, but I have come to expect this sort of low-life trashy behavior from elected officials. In essence, they are saying “Ya know, I don’t care if this old geezer is dead! We didn’t need him around reminding us of how great a country we were and how far we’ve fallen from the greatness! Good riddance!” They couldn’t care less about what is honorable and decent–they just want our taxes and votes. I’d bet dollars to donuts that when they pass away, their family will bemoan how wonderful they were and how much they deserve to have their darling mumsy or popsy lie in state when, in their lives, they have likely not done anything nearly as honorable as the good Corporal did.
I posted this in the comments section of a blog I frequent, but I will post it here as well. Perhaps someone with some sort of power will see this and act. Call your local congress and senate vermin and give them a piece of your mind. They likely won’t listen, but if enough people badger them, they might relent. If you know any veterans (be they WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, the recent war in the middle east [whatever it’s name], and even if they never saw combat on any front anywhere), please be sure to honor them while you can. Thank them, hug them, salute them, and by all means, if they are willing, get their stories. HONOR who they are and what they have stood for–because God knows the government couldn’t care less…
It’s really quite sad to see how vets are treated here. Few festivities even exist anymore and beyond Veteran’s Day, nobody bothers to stop. I felt like I should tell some people this story, because it’s so painfully obvious how little respect our own country has for it’s fighters.
I lived in Melbourne, Australia during my senior year in college. On ANZAC Day (their Veteran’s Day), a roommate and I attended a parade and memorial service held annually at their city’s monument (oddly, most cities in Australia have a statue for the ANZACs, and many are proud to attend their parades and honorary events–unlike here where most people don’t even get Veteran’s Day off). As we watched the current Australian soldiers file past and pay their respects at the Eternal Flame (yep–they have one of those, too, except theirs isn’t lit in honor of a dead controversial president), we both happened to notice a gigantic American flag waving in the distance. After the ceremony, we made a beeline for the man waving this flag. He was an American veteran of WWII but had always been an Australian citizen. During WWI and WWII, many Aussies joined the American forces because they paid better, fed better, and had better uniforms. After a near hour with this man, we learned that he comes to this ceremony every year, waves this American flag, and silently prays for the families of his fallen American brothers. He says he has been harassed, spit on, and beat up. He cried when he told us that one year, he was beat so badly that he accidentally let the American flag touch the ground and that he will never forgive himself for that moment. He is one of a handful of “Aussie Bred American GIs” (his words, not mine) who keep a “sacred” piece of ground. During WWII, many American soldiers died in the pacific front and many more died of their injuries at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (still there today). If they died in wartime, they were buried in aluminum coffins in a cemetery near Melbourne, with temporary grave markers until the war was over and it was safe to transport them home. This man, who I will never forget, told us that he and his small band protect this cemetery and keep the grounds pristine because, in his words, this was a temporary resting place for his fallen American brothers and he will make sure that nobody ever disturbs it. There is a monument there showing an American GI and an ANZAC fighting together and both the American and Australian flags hoisted. There are no graves–just a large, well kept piece of land. When asked why he flies the American flag silently, instead of handing out brochures or something else his response is simple: “Most people don’t realize that without you Yanks (yes, he called us Yanks), we’d all be speaking Japanese right now. We’d have lost or died trying. Nobody here remembers that. We owe your GIs our lives.”
I firmly believe that the good Corpl. deserves this honor. If not for him, then for who? Does our current rat at 1600 Penn. Ave deserve it upon his death? I don’t believe so, as I don’t think he is honorable in the least. If we will not honor this man, then tell me who we should honor? Frankly, I was horribly offended that Rosa Parks was granted this–for basically being a stubborn woman who refused to move. The Corpl. risked his life and did honorable and noble things. The civil rights movement didn’t do a whole heck of alot for race relations in many ways and Ms. Parks was not the only prominent civil rights figure, yet the only one afforded the honor of lying in state. Sounds like a weak attempt at “mending” some bad ties, no?
Today I also thought about my Australian friend. This man, who has never been to the United States in his life, is willing to be beaten and scorned in public by his “fellow countrymen” to honor those who fought and died alongside him. How much does it say about us here, in the US, when an Australian citizen has more pride in OUR military and holds dead US soldiers in such a high honor that he is willing to spend his life taking care of a temporary cemetery has a higher respect for our veterans than our own government. Shame on them and shame on us, too.