The Corner

re: In Memoriam

Readers respond to this:

I’m surprised and disappointed that you are giving Obama a pass in not being in DC, more specifically Arlington Cemetery, today.  I’m confident that, particularly as a conservative, you appreciate certain symbols and their importance to a civil society.  Presence at the symbol of Americans’ sacrifices—soldiers’ graves in Arlington–is an affirmation of our nation’s appreciation, as conveyed by a commander-in-chief.  Obama’s absence reflects a disturbing neutrality, if not a hostility, to what Arlington and its dead represent to the nation.  That’s where he belongs today, not in the symbol of American political corruption: Chicago.

I remain unpersuaded. Yes, Arlington is special. But I don’t think visiting a different national cemetery on Memorial Day represents “hostility” to American traditions. The next reader is willing to allow two exceptions to the Arlington rule:

The president’s place, any president’s place,  on Memorial Day is at Arlington with exceptions of course for Normandy (GWB in 2002) and the National Cemetary of the Pacific in Hawaii.

Sorry, call me a cynic but BHO is going to Lincoln only because he knows he needs to make an appearance and that it won’t interfer with him getting back to DC for the McCartney concert.

Finally, I like this reader’s suggestion:

As a pastor who has done committal services at a number of our national cemeteries around the country for veterans, I think if Pres. Obama starts a new tradition of every other year, the President does a Memorial Day wreath-laying at one of the many national cemeteries not named Arlington, that will not only make the Arlington observances special in their own right, but help to make families feel the intended connection between the other national cemeteries in the network and Arlington itself.

Having said that, I hope that someone in the WH communications shop is figuring out that their management of symbolism (flags at press conferences, trips on Memorial Day, golf scheduling, etc.) could use some work.  But I’m very much in support of the idea, even if inadvertent, of building a presidential connection between the scattered network of national cemeteries and Arlington — hey, there’s always the Punchbowl for Memorial Day 2012, where I believe his grandfather who raised him is buried.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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