Green Room

Pearls On Green Velvet

posted at 2:43 am on May 31, 2010 by

When I heard that President Obama would skip the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, my initial reaction was surprise.  It seemed like a foolish unforced error, the sort of mistake a wartime President with flagging popularity can hardly afford.  If even Maureen Dowd thinks Obama should have been at Arlington, the buzz on Main Street, USA must be brutal.

Obama is not the first president to spend Memorial Day away from Arlington, but in the absence of a compelling reason to be elsewhere, such as George W. Bush’s attendance of the historic Normandy ceremonies in 2002, I think the President belongs at Arlington on Memorial Day.  Even George H.W. Bush, who fell into the twilight’s last gleaming as his torpedo bomber and crew died in the sky above him in 1944, should not have delegated the duty to his Vice President.

Arlington is sacred ground, where pearls of courage and sacrifice are laid upon green velvet for Americans, along with all lovers of freedom around the world, to pay their respects, and be repaid with inspiration.  It is a page torn from the American history book, surrounding a house built by George Washington Parke Custis, adopted grandson of our first President… and father-in-law to Robert E. Lee.  On Memorial Day, Arlington serves as a place of quiet communion with a great company of heroes, whose boots stamped out the path every American leader follows.  Even in peacetime, our heritage of inalienable rights and self-evident truth draws the hungry and hateful gaze of tyrants and predators.  It’s good for our President to draw their attention to those pearls on green velvet… and remind them it is but a sample of the vast treasure of courage held within these United States.

More than three hundred thousand people rest in the soil of Arlington, but its grounds are not haunted.  Its ghosts are found around the world, in all the lonely places where American soldiers must walk.  They hold formation with the men who patrol the streets of Iraq.  They roam the mountains of Afghanistan, ready to lay a steadying hand upon the shoulders of their grandsons, in the moment before a sniper’s bullet finds its mark.  They stand watch on the tense border between North and South Korea, unblinking eyes fixed upon the servants of a madman, hearts burning for the murdered sailors of our South Korean ally.  The spirits of Arlington bear witness to the farewells said by every military family, in air and sea ports across the nation, recalling how they shipped out from a thousand different towns and cities… but came home to one graceful resting place in Virginia.

Arlington is America’s home town.  We all come from there.  Our veterans gave us the tools we used to build everything else.  Before the pens of the Founders scratched across the parchment of our Constitution, muskets scratched the air at Lexington, Concord, Trenton, and countless other desperate battlefields.  The valor of the soldiers who fought our Civil War gave us one nation, under God, and indivisible.  The armed forces of the United States are a wonder unmatched in all of history: a peerless fighting force that does not shed blood for conquest, born from a nation dedicated to peace.  The conquerors of previous ages would swoon with envy to have such a force at their command… and reel in confusion to see them delivering food and medicine to the victims of earthquakes and floods around the globe.  Even the cleverest of those bloody old monsters would be unable to fathom how the mercy and humanity of our armed forces are precisely the qualities that make them invincible.

Every President should spend Memorial Day at Arlington, because to stand there is to stand in all the plots of home and foreign soil where American troops take their well-earned rest after melting crowns, liberating empires, burning the grisly totems of fascism, and hammering through curtains of iron.  An awful lot of nightmares were buried by the people buried around George Washington Parke Custis’ fine old mansion.  They have an indispensable gift for the President, when he comes calling on Memorial Day: the gift of humility.

It is proper for the Commander-in-Chief to feel small before that sea of white stones, bright and pure as the stars in our flag.  Let his head be lowered in the awesome presence of those who created and preserved the office he holds.  Knowing he was inducted into that mighty company on the day of his election, let him waste no time seeking a higher honor, for he will never find one.  The President should go to Arlington both to honor the dead, and learn from them.

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It’s most likely above Barry’s pay grade.

Breathtaking imagery, Doctor. Thanks for another gem.

hillbillyjim on May 31, 2010 at 4:21 AM

What you have penned had striken the hearts and spirits of many presidents in our great country’s history, some before becoming of office, some during.

BarryO’s heart would not be affected by Arlington National Cemetery. At least not yet. BarryO has yet to serve anyone other than himself or those closest political allies that in turn serve him. Personal sacrifice is not his strong suite. Personal sacrifice is what divides those in all our National Cemeteries from the BarryO’s of the world.

Robert17 on May 31, 2010 at 7:56 AM

Happy memorial day. Thanks to the men and women in the military and their families who have sacrificed so that we may enjoy our freedom.

tartan on May 31, 2010 at 8:24 AM

Inasmuch as Obama is supposed to figuratively represent all of us in honoring our sacred dead, this is a huge failure of duty.

However, inasmuch as Obama has consistently declined to defend our country against all enemies, to have him stand on that hallowed ground is tantamount to moral depravity.

Our Marines are there at Arlington, 24/7 and the honor and service they do for our departed heroes is the office of a brother in arms. It is enough to say that they speak for America when our President will not.

Joan of Argghh on May 31, 2010 at 8:40 AM

Doc, this pattern on the part of socialists is nothing new. They have never wanted their subjects to remember those sacrifices, because if they remembered them, their subjects might draw the inspiration to throw off the socialist yoke.


“The eradication of memories of the Great War. -SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT ORGAN

The Socialist Government speaks:

THOUGH all the Dead were all forgot
And razed were every tomb,
The Worm-the Worm that dieth not
Compels Us to our doom.
Though all which once was England stands
Subservient to Our will,
The Dead of whom we washed Our hands,
They have observance still.

We laid no finger to Their load.
We multiplied Their woes.
We used Their dearly-opened road
To traffic with Their foes:
And yet to Them men turn their eyes,
To Them are vows renewed
Of Faith, Obedience, Sacrifice,
Honour and Fortitude!

Which things must perish. But Our hour
Comes not by staves or swords
So much as, subtly, through the power
Of small corroding words.
No need to make the plot more plain
By any open thrust;
But-see Their memory is slain
Long ere Their bones are dust!

Wisely, but yearly, filch some wreath-
Lay some proud rite aside-
And daily tarnish with Our breath
The ends for which They died.
Distract, deride, decry, confuse-
(Or-if it serves Us-pray!)
So presently We break the use
And meaning of Their day!

SDN on May 31, 2010 at 9:02 AM

Countrymen pay heartfelt homage to their fallen soldiers.
All soldiers are heroes of the countrymen.
Therefore, Obama is not a member of the countrymen.

ericdijon on May 31, 2010 at 9:25 AM

Beautiful, Doc.

…the gift of humility

Sadly, a trait not shared by our president.

God Bless America. And the thanks of a grateful citizen to all who served, all who waited, and all who serve us still.

publiuspen on May 31, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Since he feels the way he does about America it is just as well he doesn’t show up.That is hallowed ground and doesn’t need to be tainted by him.He doesn’t care and I am reserved to that.

docflash on May 31, 2010 at 9:30 AM

And I assumed this article would be about Obama’s penchant for golf on lush fairways and greens.

dIb on May 31, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Just when you think Doc can’t top his last essay, he hits another one out of the park. Thank you for this, Doc – eloquently beautiful and soul-stirring as always….

TeresainFortWorth on May 31, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Thanks, Doc, for this incredibly beautiful tribute to our men and women in uniform. My father is buried at Arlington (my mother will be buried with him), and I could not be more proud of his service to a country that he loved and revered. Obama is not fit to stand in his shadow, nor the shadows of others who have served well and proudly, but as the President, he certainly should have humbled himself enough to pay homage to them. Alas, I fear that humility is above his pay grade. However, this does not diminish the priceless contributions of my father, who served through three wars, nor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms. It is an epic fail when the Commander-in-Chief decides to disdain those who fought and died to protect the Constitution he swore to uphold, the very one he chooses to ignore, and dare I say, subvert.

College Prof on May 31, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I always enjoy your articles, Doctor, though I rarely comment. One cannot improve upon mastery, and I always feel that any comments I might add are fruitless.

However, I must say; you have written many powerful, thought-provoking articles in the past, but I believe this one to be the best among all your works. Exceedingly well done, sir.

KinleyArdal on May 31, 2010 at 6:18 PM

No words come. Well done Doctor, well done

JusDreamin on May 31, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Knowing he was inducted into that mighty company on the day of his election, let him waste no time seeking a higher honor, for he will never find one. The President should go to Arlington both to honor the dead, and learn from them.

Of course there is no higher honor than to have given everthing, yes everthing, to the cause of freedom.

Humility can not be learned or accepted as a gift. It is part of most peoples DNA. An innate instinct or absent from birth.
False humility is worse than the inability to experience it.

Doc-Your work always makes me think. This time I understood every word from the beginning. Good job.

AnthonyK on May 31, 2010 at 6:43 PM

Well said, Dr. Z.

But remember that our current potus considers himself to be a ‘citizen of the world.’ That is foremost and far beyond merely being a Yank in his mind.

Being an American in Zip’s mind is being the ultimate welfare client….. there for all the goodies, handouts, bribes, and prizes with no obligations.

Unfortunately, he went for too large a prize, and people are demanding something in return. It’s pitiful that all we’re looking for is a small token of respect. Then, again, that’s all we’re going to get from this guy.

Then again, this is the sort of thing that is his demise. He can’t help but self-destruct.

Cody1991 on May 31, 2010 at 6:47 PM

…the gift of humility

Not just the president but all of us need to be reminded of this.

chemman on May 31, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Bill Whittle’s first essay in Silent America is an appropriate meditation on this point. “I felt like my father was receiving the funeral of the President of the United States. And, the number of people present aside, he was.”

Mr. Obama, one day you will be laid to rest in such a place, unless you feel it is beneath you. And I hope you feel that way.

njcommuter on May 31, 2010 at 6:53 PM

God must agree, given the sudden t-storm that appeared.

ctmom on May 31, 2010 at 7:14 PM

Even the cleverest of those bloody old monsters would be unable to fathom how the mercy and humanity of our armed forces are precisely the qualities that make them invincible.

Doc you really are the best, no one today says it better!

Thank you.

tim c on May 31, 2010 at 7:18 PM

A poster on another thread said it all – “I cannot add to the words of Lincoln at Gettysburg”.

Home run, Doc. Home run.

Who is John Galt on May 31, 2010 at 7:39 PM

Stunning piece of beauty you’ve created, Doc. You leave me constantly in awe.

Thank you, Doc, because we all needed that today.

Fishoutofwater on May 31, 2010 at 8:07 PM

Beautiful, poignant and true.

Well done, sir.

FloridaBill on May 31, 2010 at 8:25 PM

Thank you Doc for your words bring me to tears.

mixplix on May 31, 2010 at 8:31 PM

Obama doesn’t give a rat’s backside for any serviceman or woman or anyone else for that matter. To call this fool the Commander-in-Chief is a complete travesty and an affront to anyone who has served honorably and especially to the one’s who are the subject this day’s observance. He wouldn’t make a pimple on a Private’s ass. I just wish that I were young enough to still be in the service so that I could refuse to salute the scurolous chump.

LarryG on May 31, 2010 at 8:37 PM

Okay Doc Zero, you can write in a straight line after all. Well done ;^)

elfman on May 31, 2010 at 9:28 PM

This President has no honor, not even enough to sustain the office to which he was elected.

disa on May 31, 2010 at 10:06 PM

Amen Doc. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom.

solidaction on May 31, 2010 at 11:35 PM

This is beautiful, Zero.


materialist on June 1, 2010 at 1:01 AM

If I could write like that, I wouldn’t be doing it for free.

lionheart on June 1, 2010 at 6:48 AM