There are any number of things worth addressing this weekend: the way that four dead presidents could rally a congressional district in upstate New York to win a House seat—quite a trick, a recollection of why many people considered President Clinton to be the last reasonable Republican president but no Democrat, and why making Elizabeth Warren THE issue in the 2012 elections would allow the country to make its voice known (as a recess appointment that expired right in the middle of the campaign surely would), but this is a weekend for memories. It is for barbecues and pool openings, too, for the beginning of the summer and for the Bruins first march toward a Stanley Cup in twenty-one years, but a moment to remember those who got us this far is also due.
In one of his many appearances with Rachel Maddow, Paul Rieckhoff, the Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, discussed the connection between our gratitude for the military and intelligence people who finally punished Osama bin Laden for the attack he loosed on our country, and our obligations on this holiday. He was eloquent is doing so, and said something well beyond what chants of U-S-A or flag pins can say:
we‘re really grounded in the reality of how much of our lives as a community of veterans has been dedicated to this moment. I mean, for the last 10 years, our brothers and sisters have been looking for this guy, have been hunting this guy—even when a lot of Americans forgot about it and moved on to other things.
And our community‘s paid a tremendous cost. So, we think about the friends we lost. We think about the families and we think about the folks who‘ve been wounded. But we‘re proud. We‘re especially proud of the SEALs and all the operators involved in this operation who are absolutely incredible. And now, the world is going to find out why we have such respect and admiration for them.
I think that people need to remember how they feel now. Remember how they felt[the] night [bin Laden was found]. Remember that unity. Remember that sense of pride and carry it over.
Memorial Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. And we need folks to remember that day and keep this energy and keep this momentum and keep this unity because it‘s unlike anything I‘ve ever seen. And the only time I‘ve ever, in my life, seen unity like this was after 9/11, and that was for something very different. So, I think we have an opportunity to harness that and to really support these folks and support our military and become stronger as a country….
And, as we remember those who gave their life for their country, this corner of the world will remember Lieutenant (j.g.) John F. Kennedy, whose was born 94 years ago this weekend. He barely survived his naval service in World War II as we have come to know over and over, but the inspiration for, and challenge to, the generation that grew up during his presidency and its calamitous aftermath, is his most lasting legacy. His voice still resonates despite every effort conceivable to mute or distort it.
Somebody responded to a post in this spot about President Kennedy’s Madison Square Garden speech about why expanding social security to include medical care to the elderly was something we needed to do, by allowing that the speech “Must’ve Been Part of the Impetus That Got Us…Medicare not so much later under LBJ” which seemed funny since it ignores to almost certain reality that medicare became law only because President Kennedy’s death made it all but mandatory that his initiatives be enacted into law in his memory.
That is what it means to give one’s life for the country, and it is right to remember him today, along with all those, military and otherwise, would have done more than anyone could reasonably ask to allow us to live the lives we live.