Memorial Day has arrived — and given the tense political times we’re enduring, so has the usual carping.
It’s coming from conservatives who are angry that President Obama didn’t lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. He assigned that duty to Vice President Biden, who did a nice job this morning at the solemn ceremony.
One reader, from Pampa, believes it’s unforgivable that the president didn’t honor the memory of our fallen warriors at Arlington and said that the media have hidden the story. Two points need to be made.
One is that the media have been all over the story today. They were reporting that Obama would make remarks at the Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois, where the president was visiting with his family. The media also have noted the criticism that has been directed at the president from conservative groups, and from veterans organizations. What’s more, if the media were covering up the story, how did the critics know about it?
The other is that Obama isn’t the first president to forgo laying a wreath at Arlington during Memorial Day. President GHW Bush, a WWII combat vet, didn’t do it. President Reagan rarely took part; indeed, the media have noted that one year Reagan was vacationing at his California ranch during one Memorial Day. President Clinton — who famously avoided service during the Vietnam War — foresaw the vilification he would have suffered if he stiffed the ceremony, so he made a point of laying the wreath throughout his presidency.
This day isn’t about what presidents do to honor our fallen warriors. It’s about the men and women who have died in service to the country.
We can save the carping for another day. Heaven knows there’s plenty to keep us angry.