Thousands of bikers in Washington for rally on POWS

Thousands of bikers roared through Washington for the annual Rolling Thunder rally Sunday, given added fervor this year amid anger over an ongoing scandal concerning medical care for veterans.

Organizers estimated around 750,000 bikers and spectators had descended on the US capital for the annual eve-of-Memorial Day rally in support of American prisoners of war and those missing in action, as they have each year since 1988.

The awe-inspiring show of motorcycle might includes many US military veterans on bikes, clearly identifiable in leather jackets emblazoned with military badges and medals.

Henry, 58, travelled from Maine in the northeastern United States with his wife and five other bikers.

He said he was not surprised by the recent scandal gripping the Veterans Affairs (VA) department over delays in care to US military personnel blamed for dozens of deaths.

“I’m 70 percent disabled. I know all about the VA, it didn’t come as a surprise,” he said.

Read more here.

Romney tells vets dangerous world demands powerful military

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney chose Veterans Day to proclaim to the American people his conviction that the world is a dangerous place, and the United States must remain its most formidable military power.

“The world is not safe,” Romney told veterans on Memorial Day. He was joined by Senator John McCain, in a speech to honor the veterans of America’s wars.

The United States now has two paths forward, Romney said. He called one “the pathway to Europe,” suggesting Europe had acquiesced to geopolitical threats. “To shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs.”

The other path, Romney said, is “to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

Romney, expected to face off against President Barack Obama in November, joined the 2008 Republican presidential nominee in thanking the nation’s veterans.

Romney, who has focused his campaign on the struggling U.S. economy, changed his focus on Monday in his warning about the dangers of the world outside America’s borders, indirectly criticizing Obama’s foreign policies.

“I wish I could tell you that the world is a safe place. It’s not,” Romney said.

Read more here.

VFW slams MSNBC host who said he was ‘uncomfortable’ calling dead soldiers ‘heroes’

A spokesman for a leading veterans organization criticized MSNBC’s Chris Hayes for arguing on his television show that that he’s “uncomfortable” describing American soldiers who died in battles as heroes.

“If Mr. Hayes feels uncomfortable, I suggest he enlist, go to war, then come home to what he expects is a grateful nation but encounters the opposite. It’s far too easy to cast stones from inexperience,” Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Joe Davis told The Daily Caller on Sunday.

Hayes, a liberal writer who hosts the weekend show “Up with Chris Hayes,” said he is “uncomfortable about the word [hero] because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.”

Read more here.

Remembering what Memorial Day is all about

We all know what today is. It’s Memorial Day.

Memorials are good things. The Bible uses the word about two dozen times, so memorials must be important.

The reason they are important is because we need to remember lessons and sacrifices from the past.

The dictionary definition of “memorial” is “something designed to preserve the memory of a person, event, etc., as a monument or a holiday.”

Memorial Day was originally a time to remember the huge and almost unimaginable sacrifices our country made during the War Between the States – in which more Americans died than in all previous and succeeding wars combined.

America was ripped apart just 150 years ago.

Do Americans remember why?

Yes, certainly slavery was an issue, but that cursed institution was scarcely the only reason – probably not even the principal cause.

It was a conflict mainly about government power – how it would be limited and shared among the federal government and the states.

American men and women are still giving their lives today in wars and battles – making the ultimate sacrifice for their country, so that those who survive can remains free.

Memorial Day is principally for them. It’s a day we grieve for them and their families and give thanks to those who laid down their lives for their friends and countrymen.

But Memorial Day should also be a time for Americans to think about why they died and what they tried to preserve for the rest of us, because, all too often, we take liberty for granted.

Liberty is not something that should be taken lightly, because, in the history of the world, it is fleeting, scarce and often short-lived.

I raise this point today because America is divided like it has not been divided since the War Between the States.

Too many Americans have forgotten what made our country so special – unique, really, in the history of the world.

Our founders gave us a system of government that, for the first time in the history of the world shackles were removed from the people and placed on the government. America was to be what ancient Israel was intended to be – a nation in which individuals were accountable first and foremost to God and only secondarily to state power.

There would be no king in America. The Constitution diffused central power and strictly limited it. The founders used checks and balances to be sure federal power did not grow at the expense of liberty and the power of individual states.

Read more here.

Memorial Day — as summer begins remember this beach

Memorial Day, what does it mean? As your long weekend unfolds look around. Take in your world and listen.

What do you see? What do you hear?

Will you hear this long weekend referred to as “the unofficial start of summer?” Will you hear people talk about parties, barbecues, trips to the lake and the beach, probably.

As you feel the warm rays of the sun, smell the inviting flavors of fresh food sizzling on the grill and watch your children run around the yard or splash in the surf there is something you should remember.

It is another beach, from a time long since past. You can see that beach in the photo accompanying this article. It is the beach at Buna, Papua New Guinea, and it depicts just three of the young lives this weekend memorializes.

The photo is of three dead American GIs. They lie half buried in the sand of an island far from their homes, far from their loved ones.

Photographer George Strock’s memorable image, taken in February 1943, wasn’t published until September of that year. When it appeared in Life magazine it became the first photo published, during World War II, which depicted dead Americans.

Censors released this and other graphic photos for a number of reasons. Given the year and the war one of those reasons still shocks me every time I read it. President Franklin Roosevelt was concerned that the public had grown detached from the astronomical price being paid by some so that we could live free.

Their faces are hidden, their names were not included.

Read more here.

On Memorial Day

In American military cemeteries all over the world, seemingly endless rows of whitened grave markers stand largely unvisited and in silence. The gardeners tend the lawns, one section at a time. Even at the famous sites, tourism is inconstant. Sunsets and dawns, winter nights, softly falling snow, and gorgeous summer mornings mainly find the graves and those who lie within them protected in eternal tranquility. Now and then a visitor linked by love, blood, or both will come to make that connection with the dead that only love can sustain.

Sometimes you see them, quiet in some neglected corner beneath the trees or on a field above the sea, but numbers and time make this the exception. If not completely forgotten, the vast ranks of Civil War dead are now primarily the object of genealogy and historians, as the fathers and mothers, women, children, and brothers who loved them are now long gone. As it is for everyone else it is for the dead of all the wars, and neither proclamations nor holidays nor children innocently placing flags can cure it.
More on Military Memorials

Nonetheless, a universal connection links every living American with those who have fallen or will fall in American wars and overrides the lapses in sustaining and honoring their memories. We are and shall be connected to them by debt and obligation. Though if by and large we ignore the debt we owe to those who fell at Saratoga, Antietam, the Marne, the Pointe du Hoc, and a thousand other places and more, our lives and everything we value are the ledger in which it is indelibly recorded. And even if we fail in the obligation, it is clear and it remains.

What do we owe soldiers on the battlefields of the present or—do not doubt it—the future? How does one honor the inexpressibly difficult decision to walk toward annihilation, in some instances guaranteed, for the sake of the imperfect strategies of war, their confused execution, and their uncertain result? What can we offer the soldiers who will not know the outcome of their struggle, or ever again see those left behind?

We owe them a decision to go to war ratified unambiguously by the American people through their constitutional and republican institutions. Except where instantaneous response is necessitated by a clear and present danger, this means a declaration of war issued by a Congress that will fully support its own carefully determined decision and those it sends to carry it out—nothing less, nothing hedged, nothing ducked.

This requires in turn the kind of extraordinary, penetrating debate that can occur only among those wise enough to understand mortality and weigh it against principles that cannot be left undefended. It requires a president who can argue for his decision not merely with eloquence but substantively and tenaciously—guided only by the long-term interests of the United States, not fatuous slogans, political imperatives, and easily impeachable ideological notions of the right, left, or center.

Read more here.

Know your enemy

On this Memorial Day Weekend in the United States Americans should pause to honor the brave men and women of the Armed Forces who are fighting and dying to protect freedom and the American way of life in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world. They should then reflect on what and who America’s real enemies are.

There are really only two principal answers to that…Islam and all those who enable it to further its raison d’etre of conquering the United States and the West, establishing a worldwide Islamic Caliphate and imposing Islamic Law, Sharia, on everyone. Among others, that includes Jihadists, so-called religious figures, businessmen, academics, ‘ordinary citizens’, leftists and Western politicians who are furthering its rise in their home countries and around the world, such as President Obama.

Don’t think Islam isn’t the mortal enemy of America and the West? Take some time and do some independent, honest, unbiased, objective, serious research into it and its 1400year history and you’ll come to a much different realization. Hell, just open your eyes and look around. The United States and the West are under attack in the name of Islam everywhere and Western freedom, democracy, values and institutions are being threatened wherever they exist, including the U.S. itself.

Don’t think President Obama is furthering the rise of Islam in America and around the world? Ignore the sycophants, apologists and ignoramuses who turned him into a media darling and examine his actual record since he came into office. Islam is in a much stronger position vis a’ vis the United States and the West since he was elected and is growing stronger day by day, in large part because he has fostered its spread in any number of ways and done nothing substantial to deter and prevent atrocities and potential calamities such as nuclear war in the Middle East. Talk about letting the genie out of the bottle…that’s exactly what he has done.

Pause and reflect. And then do everything you can to keep him from getting re-elected in 2012. That would be the best way to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces and protect our freedom and way of life at the same time.