Tag Archives: Arlington National Cemetery

Trump tells another lie about Obama

To paraphrase Ronald Wilson Reagan … there he goes again.

Donald J. Trump said a lot of amazing things at that impromptu press conference at the White House. One of the more absurd, ridiculous and specious claims the president made was that his predecessors, namely Barack Obama, didn’t call on the families of fallen warriors.

Let’s see. How can I say this? Trump is flat wrong — yet again!

Trump draws fire for comment

President Obama made quite a statement many times during his two terms about how difficult it was for him to meet with the families of men and women who died in battle. Indeed, his military staff challenged Trump’s assertion almost immediately.

According to NBC News: “If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls — a lot of them didn’t make calls — I like to make calls when it’s appropriate,” Trump said at a press conference in the Rose Garden when asked about why he had not addressed the recent deaths of American troops in Niger.
However, a former senior Obama administration disputed Trump’s claim.

“President Trump’s claim is wrong,” the ex-official said. “President Obama engaged families of the fallen and wounded warriors throughout his presidency through calls, letters, visits to Section 60 at Arlington, visits to Walter Reed, visits to Dover, and regular meetings with Gold Star Families at the White House and across the country.” 

And yet, this president continues to get away with lying.

Reagan delivered the “There you go again” line when challenging a statement President Carter made during a 1980 presidential debate. It proved to be a devastating moment. Donald Trump appears immune to such put-downs.

Astonishing.

Recalling a chance meeting with an architect of tragedy

Watching the PBS documentary series “The Vietnam War” brings to mind a chance meeting I had in late 1995 with one of the villains of that national tragedy … Robert McNamara.

I like telling the story, so I’ll provide it here knowing, of course, that it involves only two people — and one of them is dead.

Morris Communications Corp. had convened a meeting of newspaper editors and publishers in Washington, D.C., to discuss how the group had planned to cover the upcoming 1996 presidential election. I was editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, so I got to attend the meeting.

One Sunday morning right after we arrived, we had a day off. I took the time to walk from the hotel to Arlington National Cemetery. The morning was quiet. Traffic was light. Streets had few pedestrians.

I waited at a corner for the light to turn green so I could cross. I noticed an elderly gentleman walking toward me from another corner. He was carrying a shopping bag full of groceries.

I looked and then looked more intently at the gentleman. It was Robert McNamara, secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He had just published a book, “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam.”

In the book, McNamara acknowledged that he knew as early as 1963 that the Vietnam War was a lost cause. He also admitted that he kept quiet about what he believed at the time. He continued to advise Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to keep sending young men to die in Vietnam.

I was one of the young men he allowed to go to Vietnam; I got my orders in the spring of 1969 and reported for duty at Marble Mountain, Da Nang, to work on Army surveillance aircraft.

I was filled at the time of the book’s publication with anger that McNamara would have kept those thoughts so damn private, that he wouldn’t have spoken out in real time about what he believed about the future of that tragic conflict.

He approached me on that quite D.C. street that Sunday morning. “Mr. Secretary,” I said, “I want to introduce myself. My name is John Kanelis. I live in Amarillo,Texas and I just want to tell you how pissed off I am at you after learning about what you wrote in that book you just published. I was one of those men you sent to Vietnam.”

McNamara smiled and said, simply, “You are a very observant young man.” I smiled back at him and offered a conciliatory follow-up. “I am glad that you finally came clean,” I said.

He thanked me. We shook hands and he walked away.

I continued on to Arlington National Cemetery and paid my respects to President Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy.

And I felt better for getting those thoughts off my chest.

WWII vet receives hero’s burial

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Just when you think humanity might have fallen into some sort of evil abyss …

Something really heart-warming occurs.

Andrew Moore lived alone. He had no family. Apparently he had few friends. He died in December. His body lay unclaimed for months.

Then, according to the Washington Post, some neighbors where he had lived in an apartment complex decided that the 89-year-old World War II veteran needed a proper burial. So they arranged to have his remains interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Moore was granted a burial fit for a hero. With full military honors.

As the Post reported: “Moore was given a hero’s sendoff at Arlington National Cemetery. A uniformed honor guard escorted Moore’s flag-covered remains. In place of a silent goodbye, a bugler played taps and three volleys of rifle fire marked his passing.”

This man apparently had left no will, no instructions on what should happen to his remains when he died. He was a pensioner who never married or brought children into this world.

His neighbors were able to determine he had served in the Navy during the war, with a brief tour in the Philippines; he later served in the Coast Guard.

Moore reportedly had quite the gift of gab. The Post reports that he was known to detain the mail carrier for 30 minutes or longer to talk about football. The paper also reported that Moore shared little about himself, his story, his history.

Bill Sheppard and Nick Addams, two of Moore’s neighbors, were saddened at the man’s death. The two of them managed to raise the funds required for the burial. Moore’s remains were cremated and Sheppard and Addams then made all the arrangements to have the ceremony take place at Arlington, where general-grade officers lay next to statesmen, astronauts and thousands of others who have died in service to their country.

This lonely man, though, also needed a proper sendoff once he left this world, his neighbors determined. They made sure he got it.

Goodness, it is clear, still can be found among us.

Rest in peace, Andrew Moore.

Thank you for service to this nation. Thanks, also, to the generous spirit of this man’s neighbors who felt move to give him the honor he deserves.