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.