Ask someone to remember a Civil War Veteran and you’ll get a blank stare from most people. They can recall the generals and the leaders, but most cannot pinpoint a name and say, “So-in-So served from Texarkana”. Ask someone to remember a Spanish War Veteran and Roosevelt’s Roughriders come to mind, but no one recalls names or faces of the men. Ask someone to recall a World War I Veteran, and some can tell you the name of a great grandfather who fought in the war to end all wars. In Texarkana, someone might point to Otis Henry, a young man killed in the horrible trench warfare, but that’s because his name was promoted more by his mother than by anyone actually knowing him. Sadly, it’s a fact, long after old soldiers die, they truly fade away as was once said. Many of those soldiers are remembered today only through history books, pictures, online resources, and ultimately the statues and memorials that line our cities and towns. When alive, these living heroes visited their memorials, left flowers, notes, mementos and even tears. They recalled the names of those lost in war and the names of those surviving only to be gone by that day. It’s a tradition that goes back hundred’s of years, perhaps thousands of years. A war is fought and once over a memorial is built for those who died. Hopefully it is built within the lifetime of the survivors so they can visit. The World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. took too long to build. Unfortunately, many of those who fought in the war died long before the memorial was built. Those still alive, in the 80’s and 90’s, diligently plan to view the memorial. For some, it will be the first and last time they visit.
The Greatest Generation will not win the next Presidential Election. Some of those visiting the memorial may not even see the next round of elections. So, ultimately, in the big battle to keep the government open or shut down, their vote simply will not change the outcome. There are too few of them left today.
October the 1st marked the first day of the shut down. Along with everything else not considered important, the memorial was shut down. Someone forgot to tell the veterans. Someone forgot to tell the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, fought on the islands near Japan, or flew over the shell, filled sky’s of Germany that the memorial was closed. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Who can tell a man who has seen hell first hand, that some guard in Washington is going to stop him from seeing the memorial. A memorial paid for by the people and for the people’s greatest generation. So while Washington argues and points fingers, the Obama Administration sends “Closed” signs to the World War II Memorial. The response…the veterans simply remove the barricades from the open air memorial, after all, there were signs and barricades at Normandy along with Nazi machine gun fire….these veterans are used to moving past barricades.
It was a triumph moment for the Greatest Generation, but not one unnoticed. The President sent additional security. The call went out, this is simply not right. Radio announcers threatened to have a half a million people march on Washington, people read the papers and posted on Facebook and Twitter. Once again, as that call went out, Republicans responded.
The Republican National Committee immediately offered to pay for security to keep the memorial open. Paul Rand (R) went on the floor to call those sending more security “ some idiot”. Some Republican representatives, and some Democrat representatives even went and moved the barricades for the veterans. While it is commendable that Democrats joined Republicans in moving the barricades, Democrats must remember that it is their leader in the President who sent the additional security to keep out the veterans.
In the end, I’m proud to be a member of the Republican Party that has always, and continues, to stand up for what is right. But, there comes a time when votes should not matter. That time is now. That time is now when the Greatest Generation, the entire reason we are not speaking German with a Nazi flag flying over our country, wants to visit their memorial. It’s time to stand again America. If we are not willing to stand with those left from the generation who saved us all, then it’s time to close shop because as a nation it will mean we have already gone under….