Memo to Glenn Beck and Fox News Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch

May 29, 2010

by Pat Ryan

The United States honors its war dead with 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico as well as other national memorials under the purview of the Veteran’s Administration, and an additional 24 overseas military cemeteries operated by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Among them is a patch of sacred ground in Elwood, Illinois set aside for 400,000 burials and named after the man who knew something about honoring those who gave, what he himself once said at a place called Gettysburg, “the last full measure of devotion.” That was President Abraham Lincoln who signed into law the legislation creating the national cemetery system a year before he dedicated the famous Civil War battlefield “as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.”

Tomorrow we will mark Memorial Day with ceremonies at many of America’s final resting places for our heroes – national and hometown monuments and cemeteries. One of those will be the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington where our Vice President will post a memorial wreath after hosting a breakfast for Gold Star families. Another will be by our 44th Commander in Chief at the national cemetery named for our 16th, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois.

Most reasonable people would see President Obama traveling 50 miles from his home in Chicago – where he is making his first weekend visit in 15 months – to the Lincoln Cemetery and Vice President Biden at Arlington as an appropriate observance of Memorial Day by the White House. American political dialogue, however, is not limited to reasonable people.

Enter Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Fox News and the usual noisy clutch of voices who never seem to get fair and balanced quite right, or to find new lows in civility or graciousness when talking about their opponents. In this case the churlish chorus – who in other times would long have been relegated to the lunatic fringe bin – is attacking the President for disgracing his office by not going to Arlington. Rather, they say, he will be on “vacation.” But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good political attack. And don’t let the history of Presidential visits to Arlington slow down the “smear the White House machinery” of the far right. It was apparently OK with Beck and company that Republicans Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 did not have a perfect score on Memorial Day treks to Arlington. In fact Bush the elder was 0-for-4 on that count, spending one of his Memorial Days in office at an overseas American cemetery and the other three boating in Maine. That’s not my criticism of Bush – he paid his dues in WWII and I’m OK with that – but shows the depths of hypocrisy Obama’s critics will plumb.

I’m sure Beck wishes Clinton wasn’t 8-for-8 in making it to the Tomb of the Unknowns. But heck, no point tip-toeing through a hypocritical minefield when the goal is to seize on any opportunity to make a Beck-point, “The president has decided not to honor our troops on Memorial Day and go to — can you find out the last president that decided to take a vacation..” Well, Mr. Beck, in a word, “yes.”

The lack of fact checking need not get in the way of the real objective of the anti-Obama crowd, which in this case is to cast doubt on his patriotism and dedication to the men and women of the military over which he serves as commander in chief, an assertion without basis in fact (real facts, not Fox-facts).

In dedicating the cemetery at Gettysburg, Lincoln said, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” Lincoln was wrong. The world will long remember what he said on that bloodied battlefield. We can only hope that we won’t have long to hear the outrageous claims of Beck and his Fox-ilk.

As one of the many Americans who value the real Memorial Day as a very special occasion and who is a regular visitor to family and friends whose address is Arlington Cemetery, it is offensive that the disturbing trend of divisive dialogue in our country’s political life has punctured what should be an off-limits zone. Fox News, keep your hands off our Memorial Day. We want it back.

Pat Ryan served 26 years in the United States Navy. He lives in Cookeville, Tennessee where he works as a writer and he can be contacted through

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June 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike May 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Thank you for this! I would dearly love to have a way to “forward this” to the unpatriotic, and stupid “faux” news folks but I know it would never be read or for that matter understood by those who have sold their souls to Fox.

admin May 30, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Dear “Anonoy Must”:
Thank you for your feedback. I would be happy to print your comments taking issue with my column, for others to read if you would like to include an email or other identifying information. We will, upon request, withhold those details from being displayed online.
Pat Ryan

Mark January 19, 2011 at 6:15 am

The problems most people have with Obama and his Memorial Day decisions is that most people don’t believe he loves America and Our Military. That has never been a question people had of the Bushs and Reagan.

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