23 May 2007

Memorial Day

Ed Hooper, Editor at the Civil War Courier, has once again granted me permission to post his current op-ed. A great piece about the assault on heroes by the political correctness crowd.
Remembering Memorial Day (and Danny Dietz)

U.S. Major General John A. Logan is the man credited as being the most responsible for founding the official Memorial Day holiday with his issuance of General Order No.11 on May 5, 1868. Southern states refused to officially acknowledge the day as a holiday at first. The Confederate Memorial authorized by President William H. Taft and the efforts of former Union officer and President William McKinley to tend to the Confederate dead at National Cemeteries did illustrate a national reconciliation with its past, but southern decoration days in June remained unchanged until after World War I when Memorial Day evolved beyond a day of tribute to Union soldiers. It finally became a day to honor all who had died in service to the United States. While the Southern states still maintained their own decoration days to honor their sons who had served the Confederacy, the descendants of those men continued the patriotic tradition of their families in the U.S. armed forces and are among the honored dead we now commemorate on Memorial Day.

There are many times I am called upon by people to help with Memorial Day ceremonies. Many are the usual speaking engagements, but more and more over the past few years I have been called in ahead of time to deal with protests from anti-war groups and the political correctness crowds who use the holiday to posture their own political agendas. In fact, it has become such a political football for many cities and towns that some have all but stopped their commemoration of the day honoring America’s fallen soldiers. A Memorial Day Parade is becoming a rare site these days and it doesn’t look to get any better judging by current events.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz 25, of Littleton, Colorado joined the ranks of the fallen we honor on Memorial Day a couple of years ago. Dietz died while conducting counter-terrorism operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan while serving with a Navy SEAL team. A Taliban force that tremendously outnumbered them attacked the SEAL team and a fierce battle ensued that cost the lives of many American soldiers. The Navy report stated: "Despite this terrible loss, the SEALs on the ground continued to fight. Although mortally wounded, Petty Officers (Matthew G.) Axelson and Dietz held their position and fought for the safety of their teammates despite a hail of gunfire. Their actions cost them their lives, but knowingly gave one of the other SEALs the opportunity to escape."

The location of the U.S. warrior’s body lay unknown for seven days. He was recovered during a combat search and rescue operation on July 4, 2005. For his actions under fire, he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, which is the Navy’s second highest military decoration. PO 2nd Class Dietz was returned home to his family for burial where family and friends watched him laid to rest with full military honors. The city of Littleton, Colorado decided to honor his bravery by erecting a statue of Dietz in uniform holding his rifle.

A group of politically correct citizens, however, launched an immediate protest. Their argument was that erecting a statue of a fallen soldier with a gun in his hand would send the wrong message to the community. Why? Because of the Littleton school shootings in 1999. It seems that political correctness puts an American warrior, who courageously died on the field of battle with honor defending his nation, on the same level as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who criminally murdered 15 people.

The opponents have said they would rather see a “peace dove” or a “soldier holding a child” because they are tired of the violence in the world and a “gun” sends the wrong message. In other words, the men and women who have put their lives on the line for this nation, embodied the American warrior tradition and gave their lives in the line of duty are now being categorized in a sub-criminal class by these “virtuous” peace-loving people in the name of political correctness. It is a message growing in volume as some national broadcast personalities and newspaper columnists have spewed the same rhetoric.

I have spent most of my life as a military affairs reporter, interviewed and count among my friends numerous Medal of Honor recipients and soldiers who embody what is best not only about the United States, but of the warrior tradition. To think we don’t or morally should never need them is a flawed logic that cannot be explained in this short space. Korean MOH Lee Mize told me once there are three things that lose wars: disrespect for the enemy, indecision and low morale. It is a message that has worked on battlefields throughout the ages and applies to the battle currently waging against political correctness.

The reaction of the opponents to the memorial statue honoring the heroic service of Navy P.O.2nd Class Danny Dietz and the efforts to stop its construction is inexcusable and to use the Columbine shootings as a reason to prevent it is beyond the pale of decency. Mrs. Patsy Dietz, who is Danny Dietz’s widow, has stated repeatedly the statue should be a way for parents “to teach their children the difference between two thugs who murder their classmates and a soldier who died fighting for their freedom.”

God Bless Mrs. Dietz for the comment. Parents HAVE to be the ones to teach their children the differences, as we know we cannot trust that message to the public school system or those pundits who blame the instruments of destruction for crimes and not the person or persons wielding them. Finally, hats off to the city of Littleton, Colorado for standing by what is just and honorable and not listening to the voices of ignorance. On July 4, 2007 – two years to the day this brave soldier’s body was recovered from Afghanistan – the city will dedicate the life-sized statue of Danny Dietz – rifle in hand.

Ed Hooper - © 2007, used by permission. Mr. Hooper is an award winning journalist, author, and historian. He currently works as editor of the Civil War Courier and the Camp Chase Gazette--two of the nation’s oldest and largest national publications on the American Civil War historical community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good Lord! What is this nation coming to? I thank God every day for blogs like this that can bring us the real stories missed by the news media. This is an outrage that resembles the Vietnam era. This editor is underemployed. Mr. Hooper needs to be telling these stories to the nation.