After all my years here on Earth, I am, apparently, still too trusting, occasionally to the point of being gullible. As I listened to conservative talk show hosts bemoan the fact that President Obama chose to honor fallen soldiers at a National Cemetery in Illinois, instead of being present at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, I assumed that every president before Obama and all those who were presidents during Arlington's existence, had visited Arlington on Memorial Day.
I was wrong. In fact, the last three presidents who did not visit Arlington were Republicans. In 2007, President "W" Bush went home to Texas and VP Cheney placed a wreathe at Arlington. In 1992, World War II Veteran and then-president George H.W. Bush spent the weekend in Maine, while VP Quayle laid a wreathe at Arlington. And the King of the modern-day Republicans, President Ronald Regan, attended a G-7 Summit meeting on Memorial Day 1983, leaving the wreathe-laying duties at Arlington to a Defense Department official.
Unlike his predecessors, Mr. Obama is reported to be the only president who ever made a night visit to Dover Air force base in Delaware to witness the return of dead soldiers.
Mr. Obama also visited Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran's Day 2009 to pay his respects at the grave of T.J. Barbieri, killed in Iraq in 2006, as TJ's brothers visited the grave. Mr. Obama had planned to visit the Cemetery that Veteran's Day, but it seems that the encounter at TJ's grave was not planned.
Said TJ's Gold Star mother, Carol Barbieri of Maryland, of Mr. Obama's decision to visit a National Cemetery in Illinois yesterday, "Our heroes are interred all over the Nation. The President of the United States should be remembering and honoring the men and women who fought for this Country. It doesn't matter where he does that, as long as he never forgets them."
I'd say a Gold Star Mother is the definitive expert regarding this subject. Case closed!
MEMORIAL DAY, MAY 31, 2010
In pictures from Newfoundland, PA