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
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
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz 25, of
The location of the
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
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
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.