Video: MSNBC observes Memorial Day

If there’s one thing on which we all can agree, it’s that any man or woman who gives their last full measure of devotion in service to their nation has a legitimate claim to the title “hero.” Regardless of whether one supports the policies that put the service member in that position, the man or woman volunteered to follow the orders of his Commander in Chief to defend all of us and our freedom, knowing full well what they may have to sacrifice on our behalf. Unfortunately, that’s not quite a universal point of agreement, as it turns out.  Yesterday, MSNBC and its host Chris Hayes called that recognition warmongering in an incoherent, rambling statement that will haunt the channel and its host for a very long time:

Newsbusters has the transcript:

CHRIS HAYES: Thinking today and observing Memorial Day, that’ll be happening tomorrow.  Just talked with Lt. Col. Steve Burke [sic, actually Beck], who was a casualty officer with the Marines and had to tell people [inaudible].  Um, I, I, ah, back sorry, um, I think it’s interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words “heroes.” Um, and, ah, ah, why do I feel so comfortable [sic] about the word “hero”?  I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

The spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars tells Hayes that he’s absolutely wrong about it:

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.

I’d suggest that Hayes needs to talk to a few veterans.  We’re specifically remembering those who died in service to their country today (Veterans Day in November honors those still among us), but those veterans knew the men and women who didn’t make it back home to their families.  Ask those veterans who the heroes were and are, and you won’t hear any whimpering about rhetorical proximations.

My left-of-center friend Brendan Loy didn’t mince words on Twitter about Hayes’ comments:

Since there’s some lib anti-military BS aboot, I’ll take this moment to thank the #heroes who died fighting for me, my country & my freedom.

I don’t always agree with the orders they’re following, but that’s utterly beside the point. Those who volunteer to defend us ARE heroes.

If your standard for heroism of individual soldiers is that they must disobey all orders you/they disagree with: LOL. That’s nuts.

It’s not the military’s job to make policy. The civilian gov’t sets policy. The military carries it out. Usually heroically.

Maybe it would just be best if Hayes says, “Thank you”:

Thank you to all those who have given their lives in service to our nation, from an overwhelmingly grateful free citizenry. Their loved ones are in our prayers today.

Update: My friend Kevin McCullough writes an open letter to Chris Hayes and anyone else having trouble seeing the fallen as heroes.