President Obama: A Memorial Day no-show for Commander in Chief?

President Obama stopped in Warsaw, Poland visiting Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza, Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But it would be  the second year he has missed ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

VIENNA, Va, May 28, 2011 — President Obama stopped for two days in Warsaw, Poland. His visit included a visit to Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza, Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  

If my math is correct, this would be the second consecutive Memorial Day weekend that the President missed Arlington Cemetery. Today’s Washington Post states that “Obama will be in Poland for two days.” Depending on how you count those days, he could be home for ceremonies. Considering the criticism he received last year, he may very well make it.

Memorial Day by Karen Barefoot

Memorial Day by Karen Barefoot

While in Poland, President Obama placed a wreath at the Ghetto Heroes Memorial, an important memorial that honors the sacrifice of tens of thousands of Jews who were killed in the Warsaw Ghettos uprising in 1943.

Will he be here to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington?

It is good and right for the American President to pay homage to these important sites, but it does make one wonder what “his people” are doing?  What can they be thinking?

Or, maybe they just don’t pay attention to the details. It seems to be a consistent theme in this presidency. A narcissistic lack of details.

Just recently “his people” failed to school him in the proper protocol for making a toast to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth resulting in his talking over “God Save The Queen.”

I am sure no one played the song before his visit and said “this is like ‘Hail to the Chief,’ you need to be quiet and attentive during it.” Something I think most fourth-grade school children would know. It was almost as if he thought they were giving him sweeping background music for his fine oration. 

It was only after realizing that no one else had raised their glasses did he stop talking, standing there bewildered.  Once again, America looking buffoonish in a foreign country.

But not knowing our important dates. What we hold important. What is patriotic or sacred to us. How can a man with that much staff, and a wife, not be kept informed?

To wit, on Holy Thursday, “his people” didn’t look at the calendar as they scheduled a fund-raising visit in Hollywood, shutting down neighborhoods and a prominent church, keeping people from services so that he could attend a posh dinner with Hollywood elite. (Unholy Obama Thursday by Eric Golub)

And now it seems his staff, and our President, have forgotten Memorial Day.

I guess for a young administration, the service of our men and women in times of war, both foreign and domestic, is simply no big deal.

One thing I think we may be certain of: When Memorial Day of 2012 rolls around, the President will make time – six months before the election – to make an appearance at Arlington National Cemetery, a chore he now seems to leave to Vice President Joe Biden.

But the irony of his visiting this most sacred of American sites, one dedicated to American men and women who gave their lives so that we might live free in the country which elected him President only once the next presidential circus begins, will not be lost on everyone.

I really wonder if he will be a no-show on Monday.

Amid the furniture sales and big-ticket items being touted this weekend by the malls, I sincerely hope that you put down the potato salad and hot dogs long enough to give thought to those who died and continue to give their lives for us.

Revolutionary War (1775-1783) Served: No data 
Deaths: 4,435 
Wounded 6,188

War of 1812 (1812-1815) Served: 286,730 
Battle Deaths: 2,260 
Wounded: 4,505

Mexican War (1846-1848) Served: 78,718 
Battle Deaths: 1,733 
Other Deaths: 11,550 
Wounded: 4,152

Civil War (1861-1865) Served: 2,213,363 
Battle Deaths: 140,414 
Other Deaths: 224,097 
Wounded: 281,881

Spanish-American War (1895-1902) Served: 306,760 
Battle Deaths: 385 
Other Deaths: 2,061 
Wounded: 1,662

World War I (1917-1918) Served: 4,734,991 
Battle Deaths: 53,402 
Other Deaths: 63,114 
Wounded: 204,002

World War II (1941-1946) Served: 16,112,566 
Battle Deaths: 291,557 
Other Deaths: 113,842 
Wounded: 671,846

Korean War (1950-1953) Served: 5,720,000 
Battle Deaths: 33,651 
Other Deaths: 3,262 
Wounded: 103,284

Vietnam War (1964-1973) Served: 8,744,000 
Battle Deaths: 47,378 
Other Deaths: 10,799 
Wounded: 153,303

Gulf War (1991) Served: 24,100 
Deaths: 162

Afghanistan War (2002-present) Deaths: 2,449 (as of May 20, 2011)

Iraq War (2003-present) Deaths: 4,771 (as of May 20, 2011) 
Wounded in action: 29,978

Source: Department of Defense, United States Central Command, and Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

An alert reader brought this to our attention, which should have been listed!

First Barbary War (1801-5) Deaths: 35,  Wounded in action: 64.

Second Barbary War (1812-1816)  10 US prisoners; 500 Algerian prisoners (released 1815)

Added 5/30 - 2:15pm

Mountainair provided us with this link to where President Obama’s schedule for monday, including laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 11:15am. 

Added: May 30, 2011

God bless our troops. God bless America.

Follow the blog on Face Book at Martha Boltz, and on Linked In; my email isMBoltz2846@aol.comRead more of Martha’s columns on The Civil War at the Communities at the Washington Times.

This article was further edited on May 28, 2011


-cl- 5/28/11



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Martha M. Boltz

Martha Boltz is a frequent contributor  to the long running Civil War features in The Washington Times America At War feature in the print and online editions. She has been a regular contributor to the original Civil War Page and its successor page since 1994, and is a civil war buff, historian, and writer. "Someone said that if we don't learn about the past, we are condemned to repeat it," she said, "and there are lessons of all sorts inherent in this bloody four-year period of our country's history."  She is a member of several heritage and lineage groups, as well as the Montgomery County Civil War Round Table. Her standing invitation is, "come on down - check the blog - send me your comments and let's have fun with its history and maybe learn something at the same time."


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