Jewish World Review June 4, 2004/ 15 Sivan, 5764

Greg Crosby

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Memorial Day Remembrances 2004 | On the Saturday afternoon before Memorial Day we watched the televised dedication of the new World War II Memorial in Washington DC. It was a proud afternoon for the WWII veterans and their families. There were dignitaries in attendance from both political parties. The president spoke eloquently. Patriotic speeches were given, patriotic songs were played, and tears were shed. Every branch of our military looked spectacular as the color guards paraded towards the podium.

The memorial itself, situated on the Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Memorial, is a wonderful tribute to all who served in that war and particularly to the men who gave their lives for freedom and democracy. It was impossible to be an American watching all this unfold that Saturday afternoon and not feel patriotism, pride, humility, and a lump in your throat.

And then came Sunday night.. We were still filled with the glow of patriotism as we discovered another program to be televised on PBS at 10:p.m. called "National Memorial Day Concert." It seemed an odd time to broadcast a show of that kind, but we made a point of waiting for it. Described as "the yearly salute to Americans who served, or now serve, in their nation's military is presented from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C." Sounds like a great show, huh?

The show turned out to be a thinly disguised antiwar rally. I must, however, give the producers of the show credit - they really fooled me at first. They unveiled their true sentiments very slowwwly...little by little, drip by drip. At first coming on as wildly patriotic and pro-American, the program then shifted to the left as it featured actor Charles Durning giving a speech about his own personal D-Day experience, an experience he recalled as horrific and sickening.

As Durning went on and on, describing in the most graphic details how soldiers were blown apart and crying in pain, there was no glory, no pride, and no honor in his story. It was, in his words, a nightmare that will never end for him. Maybe so, and I am truly sorry for him if he suffers from it still, but we all know what war is about. People get killed. People get injured. No one in their right mind wants war, but sometimes there is no choice. The only reason for Durning to speak of this "unspeakable horror" on television is to focus on the most negative aspects of war while eliminating the good purpose and necessity of what brought us to D-Day.

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After that, the show eased it's way into familiar antiwar songs from the sixties and finally paraded disabled Afghani and Iraqi war veterans in front of the cameras so that we might all see for ourselves the "horrors of war." I doubt if all the men in attendance at that thing who lost arms and legs realized that they were being used by the left as antiwar propaganda. The message of the show was clear - "war is not the answer" as the bumper stickers say.

I wrote a column just prior to the Memorial Day weekend which spoke of the necessity of America keeping its resolve and remaining strong in the war on terror. I have gotten a load of mail on it, most of which supported my views. I would like to share with you one letter in particular, from a WWII Vet, who also happened to watch the PBS "Memorial Day Concert." His letter is as follows:

Greg you are unfortunately on target. But our country's worst enemies are the American Media and America and Bush trashing leftists. We can handle the terrorists if those who hate America would shut up and get on our side.

I watched part of a network program, ostensibly to honor WW2 vets (like me). They said the words of praise, then paraded out an old, Omaha Beach vet, who was also a longtime Hollywood actor..

The old gent could talk of nothing else but his total, disabling panic in the face of the enemy fire. He was a member of the Rangers (who was the outfit that climbed the cliff in the face of machine gun fire and cleaned out the Germans). The rest of his unit put aside their fears and did the necessary, while the old gent messed his pants and cowered. Then they brought up Iraq and talked about how horrible that war was, and how many of our troops were being maimed and crippled. They brought out a young man wearing only shorts and a steel prosthesis from his right hip joint down to illustrate their point. The poor guy recounted an attack with rocket propelled grenades and described the confusion and pain.

The whole program was designed to make Americans lose heart and cut and run. It was not the tribute it was presented as.

Want to see a horrible war, read "A Rifleman Went To War" by Captain Herbert W. McBride of his WW1 experiences. Units were kept in the trenches till the last man was killed. There was a sense of fatalism, but there was very little cowering and whining at their fate. I have never heard such talk from veterans as that program managed to produce. G.B. Hall, Marietta, Ga.

G-d bless you, G.B. Hall. And G-d bless all in your generation who served this country and kept it a place of freedom and liberty (including Charles Durning). It's guys like you that made America a place where guys like me can express our opinions openly and completely - no matter what they may be. I thank you.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2004 Greg Crosby