“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” President George Washington
When I got an e-mail earlier this week of a video, I didn’t have time to watch it, so I kept the e-mail as new to save it for later. This evening I received the same video link in my mail from another friend, and since I had some time, I took the 12 minutes to watch it. I am so glad I did.
The video is a few months old, of a very special anniversary. It’s been 40 years since 200 Vietnam POWs attended the largest dinner event in history at the White House, which was given in their honor by President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon. The video is from the Nixon Library and it’s a news compilation of the 40th Anniversary dinner which was held at the Presidential Library in California for those same POWs.
What touched me incredibly was the respect these men had for Nixon. All of those interviewed saw him as the one “who tried to get us home”. Retired US Marine Captain Orson Swindle, who spent a little over 6 years at the Hanoi Hilton remarked, “He was a Hero to us. He will always be revered by us as a group because he got us home.”
Much went through my mind of a war which ended when I was very little. Mostly I just wished that all returning Vietnam soldiers could have been respected when they came home. And I thought about how many never did make it home. But the respect shown by Nixon for the POWs, who suffered so much, was incredible to see.
There has always been much respect shown by US Presidents throughout our history, but it’s the special interaction of a few that make it so much more clear how some show more respect to our Veterans and troops, not just in words, but in deeds.
So much has been said about GW Bush over the past 12 years, all the ‘Bush lied people died’ stuff that we never hear chanted these days. But most people have no idea of just how much GW Bush honors, respects and gives back to our Veterans and returning troops. He still visits wounded warriors. He still has special 100K bike rides with Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. He still goes to the airport and greets returning troops. He interacts with them. He has always shown utmost respect to Gold Star Families.
What happened on October 1st solidified the notion for me that our current administration has so very little respect for many of our Veterans.
By now most have heard about the group Honor Flight World War 2 Veterans who went to Washington DC to visit the WW2 Memorial but came against a force of the Obama administration to keep them out. These incredible Veterans didn’t let the barricades stop them from visiting the Memorial which they helped pay for in blood, loss and sacrifice.
Republican Congressman Steven Palazzo from Mississippi put in a request to the White House and Department of the Interior, to inform them of the Veterans who wanted to visit the Memorial. His request was denied. These Veterans were a part of Honor Flight, which is a non- profit organization which helps Veterans go to Washington to visit the Memorials of the wars which they fought in. The World War II Memorial, which opened to the public on April 29, 2004, was estimated to cost a total of $175 million, and approximately $195 million was collected, almost all from private contributions.
Rep. Palazzo said, “We got the heads up that they will be barricaded and specifically asked for an exception for these heroes,” when asked to comment about the incident to the Daily Caller. “We were denied and told, ‘It’s a government shutdown, what do you expect?’ when we contacted the liaison for the White House.” He also said that all the officials rejected his request to allow the veterans, many of whom are in their 80’s, to attend.
According to the Daily Caller, Palazzo, a Gulf War Marine veteran who has participated in all five of the Honor Flights, blames the White House for making it harder for veterans and playing politics. He mentioned that the Honor Flights, which bring WWII veterans to the nation’s memorials, are planned a year in advance and cost upwards of $100,000.
Thankfully, the veterans’ decision to ignore the barriers meant to keep them out quickly got the attention of some in Congress. “I know that today we have Honor Flight veterans flying into Washington to come and enjoy the memorials here,” House majority leader Eric Cantor said. “I’m told that they are at the World War II memorial site, regardless of the barriers.”
Several other Republican congress members were there to greet the Mississippi Honor Flight veterans at the memorial on Tuesday and listened as the heroes talked about the closure of the Memorial. “We didn’t come this far not to get in,” one veteran said.
“It’s great to be here, but it’s really disappointing that we can’t get closer to see it,” Gene Tolley, a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Pacific in WWII said. “I came through the city back in high school, but I was looking forward to coming back and seeing this.”
Just about that time, Republican Rep. Steve King, from Iowa, distracted a Park Police representative, while other lawmakers and their staff helped remove some of the barricades.
According to Stars and Stripes, ‘the scene was both emotional and comical at once. After it was clear they had lost control of the situation, Park Police officials stood aside, telling press that they had “asked for guidance on how to respond” to the breach of security.
As veterans walked around the memorial, Park Police stood quietly not hindering the Veterans, but continued telling other visitors that the site was technically still closed as barricades remained, and still do around all federal parks. “This just means so much to me,” said Alex “Lou” Pitalo, an Army vet who also served in the Pacific during WWII. “I waited 70 years to get a welcome like this. And to get to see this and to have all those people clapping … I’m just so happy. This was amazing.”
Honor Flight, who provided the trip for these heroes, states on their website that “Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.”
It is an absolute shame, and a complete disrespect to so many of our nation’s heroes, that they are being used as pawns by this present administration to literally blackmail the American people.
These men paid with their service over 60 years ago. They paid in more ways than any person on Capitol Hill will ever pay. This Memorial was funded almost entirely by private donations. That means it is not the right of the federal government to keep people out. The Federal Park Police and security were just doing their jobs, ordered by Obama to keep people out. Which means, keeping Veterans from visiting a Memorial dedicated to them and their fallen brothers. To this American, I am appalled by the lack of respect shown by this administration and many on Capitol Hill towards our Greatest Generation and all Veterans. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Many other stories are coming out now about other closures, including the Liberty Bell. The very symbol of our Liberties and freedoms; taken for what? A massive government who seems to believe it has power over We the People, who is intent on forcing the people to take something which they themselves will not be subject to. This is not what America is about. People need to realize that America is not about “free stuff”, it is about freedom. Freedom from a tyrannical group of elites who believe their power is from themselves and not from the consent of the governed.
Wake Up America. You’re valuing perceived privileges and have forgotten completely what America’s principles are, and what all our Heroes fought and so many died for. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sums it up, “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”