Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Insurrectionists, Part III

The political theatre in DC yesterday at the WW II Memorial was indeed a theatre of the absurd. One only hopes most people, and certainly veterans, can see through it. There was one tiny bit of reality--the thing to do is focus first on that. Then the rest will fall into perspective.

Mr. Priebus holds his fluttering check before the assembled press corps, promising that the GOP will, themselves, fund five full-time guards for the World War II Monument. Wowser. Five. Whole. Guards. If he'd had a big cardboard check it would have looked better, more "real." If by real you mean bullshit. No doubt Mr. Rove is on the case for the next performance. I also was struck by one Congressman who stated that it was just so appalling that this Memorial, which was what all our World War II veterans had fought for, would be closed by Mr. Obama. (Over on the Blaze teevee channel some commenter speculated that the government couldn't "really" be closed because someone or other must have put those baracades out there, and that someone must have been paid by the government, so how could it really be shut down? What geniuses.)

My father-in-law just passed his 90th year. He's having health problems, including memory issues and a cancer issue which is becoming difficult to treat without some very serious side-effects. He was in the 35th "Santa Fe" Infantry, the Wagon Wheel Division, mostly from the midwest, but he was from eastern NC. He fought in France beginning about a month after D-Day, was up around Bastogne, was amongst the liberators of the slave and death camps in Germany. He's never wanted to go back to Europe, and has been haunted for most of his very constructive and productive life by two moments in the war where he mysteriously survived while his comrades perished. If you asked him--and I'll speak for him here as he's my friend--he did not fight for the goddam World War II Memorial. His friends did not die for the goddam memorial either. I'm sure he and almost all of his comrades in arms would be insulted and offended by the political use of their brothers in this obvious bit of theatre and bullshit yesterday, put on by the likes of Michele Bachmann and Reince Priebus, neither of whom had anything at all to do with World War II.

One would hope, probably vainly, that Mr. Obama would send the US marshals to arrest the hired GOP guards. It's not their World War II Memorial. It's ours. The GOP has no authority to take possession of it with a few hired Pinkertons, although this is certainly the ugly old world they want to revive. In the Tea Party world the monied are free to hire and build whatever private army they want, and, as was done far too often, to shoot and otherwise intimidate any lowly 47 percenter who objected. Just go read about Joe Hill sometime. That's the future they're trying to build. It's the government that stands in their way. That's why they've shut it down.


Want to know what my father-in-law and his comrades did. Here's a first hand history:

My father-in-law trained at Camp Butner, in North Carolina. He rode in a Liberty ship to England, a voyage he recalls with disgust and some wry amusement, describing days of sloshing through vomit from many sea-sick young soldiers before arriving at his destination. He lived the entire European tour with the Santa Fe Division, start to finish. It is really revolting to watch these preening Tea Party congresspersons, none of whom lived any of this history of 70 years ago, try to co-opt true American heroes for their own political, misguided ends. And worse, of course, is the plain fact that the goals of the Tea Party and their wealthy backers are at odds with the well-being of the living World War II veterans, now in their late 80s and above. There is already talk of limiting Social Security rate increases as a sop to the insurrectionists. One can only hope that enough voters will finally see through this incompetent, immoral game and start electing responsible people to Congress.

Here's a short excerpt from "Lone Sentry." I hope you will read the whole booklet:

The division's first casualty was recorded that night. While Co. H, 137th, was moving into position, a shell killed Pvt. Owen J. McBride, an ammunition bearer.

Just before dawn July 11, more than 200 division guns and supporting Corps artillery pounded Nazi positions in a thunderous barrage. Then, at 0600, infantrymen stormed "over the top" of hedgerows.

The 137th rushed along the area following Highway 3 where the Germans awaited the attack on a small road leading from the highway to the Vire Canal. Dungeon-deep foxholes, connected by underground tunnels and heavily protected by mines, lined the road.

The regiment lunged forward with bayonet, grenade and point-blank fire. Green troops fought like veterans as they punched along the narrow road until reaching La Meauffe. There they ran up against Germans barricaded in houses and shops, where every building was a converted pillbox. Yank artillery crashed in and levelled the strongest points with deadly accurate salvos. Doughs rushed other positions, driving Nazis from the town.

The 137th continued up the road to "Purple Heart Corner," pushed the Germans from a solid stone chateau used as Gestapo headquarters, then took the Chateau of St. Gilles, key defense in the area. When Col. Layng was wounded by machine gun fire during the battle, Col. Robert Sears took command. Lt. Col. John N. Wilson, 219th FA Bn. CO, was killed.

Here's a brief biography of the commanding general of the 35th, Paul Baade, who led the division for its whole tour in Europe, start to finish.

You will note, perhaps, that General Baade, like most World War II veterans, died before the World War II Monument on the Mall was even conceived or constructed. In fact, the Monument was to some degree a response to the Vietnam Memorial, which in its stark honesty about the true nature of war was upsetting to many who revered the millions of World War II veterans. Certainly the "greatest generation" does indeed deserve a lasting monument to their sacrifice and service. However, they did not serve and sacrifice to achieve a memorial, as the insurrectionists have asserted. The last thing survivors of World War II need, in their fading golden years, is to find themselves pawns in a heartless publicity stunt being pulled by Tea Party politicians who wouldn't have the guts to get off the boats in Normandy, 70 years ago.


Postscript: Haven't heard much about this monument being closed by the shutdown:

(Hat tip to the Rude Pundit for the find.)

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