Tuesday, May 30

Martinizing Old Glory

Roger Ailes wonders about the whoopers and whistlers at Arlington National Cemetery.

We get a double dose in Indianapolis, since the Race, which used to be held on Memorial Day and thus had the justification of honoring the departed on their day among 400,000 people who had chosen to go to a sporting event instead, is now held the day before. Like most sermonizing and other public pieties the ceremonies tend to turn the beaters on High and just let 'em run, out of fear that insufficient time will be spent on showing reverence, and the whole thing winds up like a Twinkie without the sponge cake. The moment of silence (with that many people) always impressed me. The moment of Blue Angel (now B1) flyover always impressed me as an excuse for Air Force brass to score some free ducats.

Maybe that's just me, but my guess is that I'm not the only person who can recite the Gettysburg Address (with variants) who's never even bothered to read Edward Everett's two-hour oratory.

But if the Speedway engages in understandable patriotic poshlost, it's left to local teevee news to burst the bonds of dignity and turn the whole thing into one long, breathless shill appropriate to a new mall opening, apparently a reaction to those days when we used to line up and spit on the graves of Vietnam veterans. Used to be they'd cover taps somewhere, and a 21-gun salute and the wreath laying at Arlington. Yesterday it was practically wall-to-wall, with multiple remotes and Civil War reenactments (the heat! the wool!) and microphones stuck in everybody's phiz, including the team of husband and wife war dead buffs who were dressed in identical American flag shirts.

Even so, one moment of truth snuck through, somehow, when a young woman (wife, sister, I didn't catch the ID) said, "I used to spend every Memorial Day picnicking in the state parks. Now I suppose I'll spend every one, for the rest of my life, at Crown Hill (Cemetery)."


T.H. said...

doghouse, i saw that segment on one of the indy tv stations. iirc, the woman was the mother of a soldier who died in iraq.

that's why she'll be spending every memorial day at crown hill, where the soldier is buried.

eRobin said...

On Memorial Day lately I remember a short scene from that Kerry movie about his anti-war activity. A group of Vietnam Vets opposed to the war were marching from somewhere to Arlington but when they got to Arlington, they found it locked, which is wasn't supposed to be. The camera captured the momentary confusion about how to proceed. One of the vets said, we'll just go in. We'll climb over the gate. One of the mothers who was with the group stopped him by saying, "Please don't. My son's in there."

It was horrible. We should all spend part of every Memorial Day in a cemetery but without the vain parades and the cheering and the glorifying of the process that makes the day necessary.

Anonymous said...

You left out the big part, seeing wee Mitch Daniels astride a Harley. After seeing the world through your column, I amazed those around me with the level of disdain I tossed his way.