Sunday, November 10, 2013
Remembrance Sunday 2013
The Brits remain the world's best at holding dignified and moving commemorations. I'm feeling serious ceremony envy.
Today's Remembrance Sunday observation in London was attended by 10,000 veterans and civilian representatives. The half-muffled church bells ringing, the two-minute silence ended by the firing of a 13-pounder World War One cannon, and then the procession of leaders laying wreaths of remembrance poppies at The Cenotaph in Central London. We in Washington will have nothing like it tomorrow on our Veterans Day.
Beyond the merely ceremonial, we will also fall short of the Brits in the number of our national leaders who are conspicuously military veterans. Okay, the British Royalty are something of an exception in that they are expected to serve in, or at least hold honorary positions in, the military; starting with the Queen herself [here] and on down to her grandsons, they have really served in real wars. But so have many of the other national leaders and politicians that I saw laying wreaths in central London today.
When I think of our President, Vice President, and cabinet officers, I don't see a lot of veterans. In fact, I can think of only two, Secretaries Kerry and Hagel. Plus, of course, the ex-General who runs the Department of Veteran's Affairs, but I would think it must be obligatory to find a veteran for VA.
After looking up the bios of our Congressional leadership, I see that House Majority Leader John Boehner enlisted in the Navy after High School but was medically discharged after only a few weeks. That makes him the only veteran among our House and Senate majority and minority leaders and whips.
Looking back to the last Presidential election, only two of the dozen or more primary and general election candidates served in the military. Ron Paul had been an Air Force flight surgeon, and Rick Perry had been an Air Force C-130 pilot. Then there was Herman Cain, who was a civilian employee - ballistics analyst - of the Navy Department while doing graduate studies in computer science. That's it. Nobody else.
If our present government leadership were to muster every veteran among them for tomorrow's Veteran's Day ceremonies, would they be able to fill a street in downtown Washington DC? I doubt it.