Last week presidential hopeful John Edwards set-up a website to encourage people to protest the war on Memorial Day. The website obsessively boasts that activities are to “support the troops and end the war.” The site states, “The troops in Iraq and their families continue to sacrifice today. So this Memorial Day Weekend, John Edwards is asking the American people to give some part of their weekend in return - to honor and remember all those who have gone before in service to our country, and to let our government know we want to honor our troops by ending the war and bringing them home.”
Given the left’s track record, using the phrase “support the troops” is hollow and only serves to insulate themselves from criticism. From “botched jokes” to speeches on the House floor, the left insults the military and then insist they say those things because they support the troops. Much like the abusive husband that loves his wife too much.
I asked my mother, a 29-year veteran of the Air Force and Navy, what she thought about protesting at Memorial Day celebrations. She said this is a day for the military, veterans in particular, to honor those who have died serving their country. Telling them to “end the war” is telling them to abandon their duties. It’s up to the politicians to end the war. It’s up to the military to serve until the mission is done.
Edwards’ views on the war aside, the most offensive aspect of his call to action on Memorial Day, is that it is the Armed Forces’ most sacred day. It is certainly the most appropriate day to put aside the political differences on the war and simply “support the troops.” However, as millions gather throughout Memorial Day weekend with the purpose of honoring those who died during military service, the Edwards campaign is encouraging people to disrupt events honoring fallen soldiers by making political statements on the war. On Edwards’ website, there is a list of “10 things you can do over Memorial Weekend.” They include:
• Get everyone you know to sign a petition to your local government body - for instance, your town or city council or neighborhood association - to pass a resolution requesting that Congress use its funding authority to support our troops and end the war. [How supportive is it for Democrats to continually attach unrealistic timetables to war funding knowing that it will be vetoed?]
• Organize a prayer vigil for our troops at your house of worship. [Just make sure you’re nowhere near a school or public building.]
• At a picnic or with family and friends, make signs that say “SUPPORT THE TROOPS - END THE WAR.”… Then take a digital photo of yourself and your family or friends holding up the poster and tell us about it. We’ll include it in a “Democracy Photo Album” on our site. [In the spirit of democracy, I wonder if they’ll also post photos of those with signs supporting the war. Send in yours and find out.]
• Greet a vet. [I recommend they look for the vets with the “Rolling Thunder” t-shirts.]
Since 1868 (then called Decoration Day), this federal holiday honors those who have died during military service while serving their country. The American Legion was the first group to speak out against Edwards’ website. National commander of the American Legion Paul Morin wrote in a column on their website, “The families of those killed in war should not be led to believe that their loved ones died for a less-than-worthy cause. They died because they took an oath to defend this nation and its Constitution. The sacrifice is the same whether it’s for a ‘popular war’ or an unpopular one. Memorial Day should be an occasion to bring Americans together to honor these heroes.”
The American Veterans Center, which sponsors the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC also believes Memorial Day events should be free from political statements. Tim Holbert of the American Veterans Center said, “Memorial Day events, like the National Memorial Day Parade, are an opportunity for all Americans - both right and left—to come together to honor the sacrifices of our service members. Though it might be tempting to use the occasion to advance one’s personal convictions, on this one day we need to put aside our differences and treat the holiday with the dignity it deserves.”
The National Memorial Day Parade takes place on May 28 and includes a full-scale salute to the Armed Forces. Participants include actor and veterans’ activist Gary Sinise, veterans of the Band of Brothers, members of the Doolittle Raiders, Tuskegee Airmen and Flying Tigers, several Medal of Honor recipients and Adrian Cronauer, the disc jockey portrayed in "Good Morning, Vietnam". In 2005 the American Veterans Center brought the Memorial Day parade to Washington, DC after a 70 year absence. While Memorial Day parades were taking place on Main Streets across the country, there was no parade in our nation’s capital. As their website states, the local parades are now on the decline, “Sadly, in recent years, many of these parades have been fading away, as the true meaning of Memorial Day is being increasingly forgotten.”
This trend makes it more important than ever that Americans learn and appreciate the significance of Memorial Day and the sacrifices that were made for our country. Memorial Day honors those from the Revolution to the ongoing global war against terrorism who put their lives on the line for freedom. The Edwards campaign demeans those sacrifices by asking Americans to insert politics into public events honoring the fallen. We know what John Edwards and the left thinks about the war in Iraq and bringing those views to Memorial Day parades across the country doesn’t further their cause or respect the Armed Forces on its most sacred day. Can we at least get a cease fire from their constant calls for surrender on the one day that honors those who did everything but surrender their mission?