Too Late Opened, Too Sacred to Be Closed
The news that a group of WWII veterans and their caring companions had defied a federal closure order and visited the National World War II memorial on the Mall in Washington warmed my and millions of other Americans' hearts. While it is still uncertain exactly how the barriers were removed, if this Obama administration isn't completely tin-eared, it is obvious that those barriers should remain removed.
It took far too long for our WWII memorial to be authorized and constructed; it didn't open until April 2004, just a year short of six decades after the closing of the worldwide effort, heroism, and sacrifice it was erected to honor. Amazingly, there were those who believed that process to be too hasty even while the men and women the site was to honor were dying in increasing numbers with every year that passed. Fortunately, the memorial was able to open in time for millions of those it honored to experience their nation's tribute personally.
One of those who did that was my father-in-law, who at the age of 25 and as a father of two was drafted to serve in the 65th Infantry Division, one of those several unique units whose two-year existence on the world stage was for the sole purpose of storming Fortress Europe. Although he spoke little of his service, he and I shared the bond of both being combat infantrymen, though in vastly different wars. When the memorial opened in 2004, I called him in New Mexico and offered to take him to see it on a guys-only trip. Somewhat to my surprise, he enthusiastically accepted.
A friend in Virginia, also a Vietnam veteran, agreed to provide local transportation and serve as our Washington guide. That trip turned out to be one of the most memorable and moving events of my life, worth every penny of the cost. As we pushed the wheelchair-bound old warrior around his beautiful memorial, he was beaming with pride and engaging in happy conversation with many others just like him. Unlike my own memorial, that long black, solemn Wall, this striking marble monument was a place of joy and celebration, not one of grief and regret. I feel blessed that I was able to share that experience with my father-in-law and his fellow celebrants.
From that experience I hold a reverence for that memorial and the waning old warriors it honors, which tells me it is totally dishonorable for the Obama administration to deliberately and spitefully use this sacred site of tribute as nothing more than just another pawn in the political chess game it is now playing with the Republicans in Congress. As commander-in-chief, Barack Obama again demonstrates to the nation and to the world that he is tin-eared, tone-deaf, and totally unqualified when it comes to leading and honoring those who now serve this country as well as those who once did. Only an inexperienced and incompetent fool could fail to recognize that of all the federal edifices in Washington, there are many that could and should be closed before this one: a tribute built decades too late and now too sacred to be closed.