A day of posturing

In the week leading up to Memorial Day, the president acknowledged that some of his childish taunts hadn't been in America's best interests.

... (S)aying "bring it on," kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner -- you know, "wanted dead or alive," that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted, and so I learned from that.
Bush wasn't misinterpreted in "certain parts of the world." No, they got it, and they've been giving our troops the fight that their Draft Dodger-in-Chief wanted so badly.

Now, more than 3 years after "Mission Accomplished," there are another 2,300 men and women to be remembered today.

Saturday, in his weekly radio address Bush told the nation that "the best way to honor America's fallen heroes is to carry on their fight, defend our freedom, and complete the mission for which they gave their lives."

This from a man who 35 years ago refused to "carry on their fight," has stomped on freedom at every turn and has sent tens of thousands of men and women on a dangerous mission predicated on lies.

Later that same day, Bush addressed the first graduating class of West Point cadets to enroll after 9/11. That he was showered with 32 rounds of applause and five burst of presumably sincere laughter is a testament to the respectful, disciplined character of our next generation of military leaders. It was at this same event in 2002 that Bush outlined his "first strike" doctrine, an ideal so counter to the teachings of his so-called Lord and Savior as to be laughable.

Today the president defiled the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery with a wreath-laying ceremony, just as his draft-dodging V.P. did this past Veterans Day.

President Bush could've done his part to honor the fallen with the a simple phone call to the Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration, demanding they put a pentacle on the headstone of Patrick Stewart, who died while serving in Afghanistan last September.

Stewart was a Wiccan. The spot for his memorial plaque at the Northern Nevada Veteran's Cemetery will likely remain blank this Memorial Day. His widow Roberta longs for the day her husband gets the recognition he deserves.

"This is discrimination against our religion," Roberta Stewart said. "The least his country can do is give him the symbol of faith as he would have wished," she recently told the Daily Sparks Tribune.

The Veterans Administration has never authorized the use of Wicca's pentacle on grave markers, even though it allows the use of symbols from 38 other beliefs, including obscure or possibly fictional religions such as Ixumo Taishakyo, Soks Gakkai, Aaronic Order, Seicho-no-ie and Presbyterians.

Roberta won't be marking the day with fellow widows and widowers at Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nevada. Instead, she will be at Fernley's Out of Town Park for what she's calling The Sgt. Patrick Stewart Freedom for All Faiths Memorial Service.

On a weekend meant to honor those who have died serving our country, the headlines are tragically dominated by stories of alleged murder and incompetence on the part of our troops. Worse are the efforts to keep these atrocities hidden.

The alleged revenge murders by U.S. Marines of more than two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha are being decried by Rep. John Murtha as "worse than Abu Ghraib." The death of Pat Tillman is being chalked up to "gross negligence." Both tragedies highlight the impossible task confronting the soldiers who fight for America. To try covering up these things is to trivialize the demands of duty.

On this Memorial Day rise above the politics and take a moment to remember the troops who have died serving your country. Perhaps as importantly, do so again November 4, 2008.

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