Interesting Times. . .
Vol: 80 Issue: 23 Friday, May 23, 2008
Memorial Day is a day officially set aside by Americans to remember those who died in the service of the nation. Originally called “Decoration Day” it was officially proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1868.
The first ‘celebration’ took place on May 30, 1868 by ‘decorating’ the graves of the Union and Confederate dead at Arlington National Cemetery. (Hence the name)
For a hundred years, it was observed on May 30th for a specific reason — May 30th was NOT the anniversary of a Civil War battle by either side.
It was renamed ‘Memorial Day’ in 1967 and moved to the last Monday in May in 1971. America celebrates Veteran’s Day in November, but it was originally set aside to commemorate the victorious veterans of a particular war.
Memorial Day is a day set aside to mourn all of America’s war dead — but the holiday has evolved from that of decorating the graves of the war dead to a day in which Americans celebrate the legacy they purchased for us with their lives.
Memorial Day is a national day of family celebrations; picnics, family baseball games, annual reunions as a gesture of respect for those young men who never returned from battle to start families of their own.
It is the day when we remember those who remain forever young, and to say ‘thank you’ to those who served with them.
Thank you. Semper fi.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Senator John McCain’s military service, as I do for all veterans, but John McCain ranks up near the top of the list.
McCain’s story is breathtaking: Shot down over Hanoi, he broke both arms and one leg during ejection. He landed in the middle of a lake in downtown Hanoi, where he would have drowned had he not been able to pull the cord on his floatation device with his teeth.
The locals who fished him out bayoneted him and dislocated his shoulder before turning him over to the NVA. After five months at the Hanoi Hilton, the NVA figured out he was the son of the commander of Western Pacific forces (WESPAC) and offered him an early release for its propaganda value.
McCain refused early release, for which he was severely punished, and served an additional five years in captivity. His courage and devotion to his nation and his fellow POWs is the stuff of which legends are made.
But being a fine American and an undisputed military hero does not automatically mean one would make a fine president.
As much as I admire John McCain the war hero, I am a bit less enamored of him as John McCain the politician. Sometimes, it almost seems as if the two should get to know one another.
John McCain the war hero spent five more years in a POW camp rather than turn his back on his friends. John McCain the politician suffers from no such crisis of confidence.
When McCain was running for the Republican nomination from Republican voters he aligned himself with Bush administration policies like the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq strategy, judicial appointments and other issues important to Republicans.
In the process, he sought out endorsements that would help him with Republican voters. Despite initial fears that McCain was too liberal, he convinced conservatives he was one of them –until he locked up the nomination.
The first one to be chucked under the bus was George Bush. Shrewd politics, maybe, but not very loyal. McCain rightly calculated that Bush is not very popular, but he knew that during the nomination process.
When McCain was looking for the Republican vote, Bush was his buddy, the tax cuts were great, and the surge strategy in Iraq was sheer brilliance.
Now that he has captured his base, he can’t get far enough away from Bush’s policies.
McCain sought (and received) endorsements from John Hagee and Rod Parsley.
McCain had no affiliation with either pastor or their respective churches — they endorsed him as the Republican candidate, and he accepted their endorsements — and the votes that they brought with them.
Barack Obama’s pastor of 20 years, who “led him to Jesus”, officiated his wedding, baptized his kids and whose sermons inspired his first book, turned out to be a raving racist lunatic.
To mitigate the damage, Obama’s camp pointed to Hagee and Parsley’s endorsements of McCain and attempted to draw a moral equivalent between Wright’s 20 years of influence over Obama as his pastor and a political endorsement of McCain by two pastors whose only link to Wright was that they, too were pastors.
Just not McCain’s, which, of course, makes any effort at moral equivalence patently absurd. All Hagee and Parsley did was endorse the Republican front-runner.
But the moment those endorsements became potential campaign liabilities, Hagee and Parsley went under the bus with Bush.
McCain has now come out as an environmental activist and champion of global warming. He credits his conversion to having settled at Oak Creek, his ranch near Sedona, Arizona.
He says of his Arizona surroundings, “The ecology of the desert is very fragile. Obviously climate change could have a very serious effect there.”
Sedona’s main claim to fame is as a Mecca for New Age adherents. It was the birthplace of the ‘Harmonic Convergence’ in 1987 and the purported location of a number of ‘spiritual vortexes’.
About.com explains that “[v]ortex sites are “believed to be locations having energy flow that exists on multiple dimensions. The energy of the vortexes interacts with a person s inner self. It is not easily explained. Obviously it must be experienced.”
(I worry that John McCain may have experienced one of these ‘vortexes’)
It is a real conundrum. John McCain or Barack Obama. (Or, Hillary Clinton. Not even a village can stop her. I think it will take a stake.)
It’s been said that, in a democracy, the people get the leaders that they deserve.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13:1 that “there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Paul says that God sets people in power according to His will, to accomplish His purposes.
Given the choices; John McCain, Barack Obama (Hillary Clinton???) and the timing (wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, the fear of ecological disasters, asteroids, etc.,) one thing we can be sure of.
Whatever He has in mind for America for the next four years, it is going to be interesting.
Enjoy this Memorial Day.