The rest of you, peep this. I had two of my four parents visiting over the weekend, and they wanted to check out the WWII memorial, which I hadn't seen yet. We went down there, and despite all the criticism I'd read about, it's basically a beautiful addition to the Mall, and seemed very respectful. My favorite part was an inscription on the South end wall:
THE WAR’S ENDJust incredible imagery in that statement; you really get the sense that, if war is Hell, the end of war is Heaven.
TODAY THE GUNS ARE SILENT. A GREAT TRAGEDY HAS ENDED. A GREAT
VICTORY HAS BEEN WON. THE SKIES NO LONGER RAIN DEATH – THE SEAS
BEAR ONLY COMMERCE – MEN EVERYWHERE WALK UPRIGHT IN THE
SUNLIGHT. THE ENTIRE WORLD IS QUIETLY AT PEACE.
General Douglas MacArthur
(And wow, it must have been cool to live during a time when our public figures were actually eloquent. That really beats "Go fuck yourself.")
The whole memorial tells a story of death and sacrifice. We tend to romanticize WWII ("The Greatest Generation", etc.) as a time when Americans were banding together in our finest hour, but here the war is painted, appropriately, as a tragedy. Victory was essential and joyous and shaped world history, but at an immense cost. War itself, in human terms, is not shown as something to be proud of.
And then I saw Twinkie the Kid's name engraved on the memorial, and I wondered if he'd read that quote. These days, "He tried to kill my dad" is apparently enough reason to forfeit the heavenly peace that MacArthur described. (You may recall the slam-dunk cakewalk we're involved in, which we've been assured will be over by, oh, 2009. At the latest.)
The other day, one of the reppies who ushered in the Freedom Fries era in the House cafeteria, backtracked.
Jones said he began changing his mind about the war after attending the funeral in April 2003 for Sgt. Michael Bitz, 31, who was killed in the southern city of Nasiriyah. He recalled that Bitz's widow read the last letter she received from her husband.That's April 2003... one month after the war started. As if he suddenly realized it wasn't going to be all freedom fries and flag-wavin'. (Yousa thinkin' yousa people gonna die? UGH.)
As much as I would like to take schadenfreudian comfort in fact that Operation Let's Get Revenge For 9/11 By Killing Some Completely Unrelated Muslims is losing support, it's too late. Even the Post is taunting me by putting Walter Pincus' stories on A1 now, two years too late. Yeah, we needed that before we went and killed thousands of people.
Besides being good at failing the world, Washington is also good at ignoring that failure. For example, despite having troops who have been hung out to dry (lack of armor, slashed benefits, low manpower, etc.), the tax cuts and huge deficits continue. The World War II memorial had engraved images celebrating some of the sacrifices our civilians made; there's a parade with people holding up signs saying "Buy War Bonds," and images of Rosie the Riveter-like participation. Today, any mention of sacrifice, especially in the form of higher taxes, is met with stoning.
And then, there's last night's $2,500-per-plate (per plate!) fundraising dinner for the GOP. We have these huge blowout "bribery luncheons", as I like to call them, around here all the time (for both parties), and it always drives me insane, because it's happening in a city where over a third of the children live in poverty. And, according to the Capital Area Food Bank's little graphic, "$1 = 3 meals." So, if you were at the fundraiser, that one meal was worth 7,500 meals to someone who actually needed it. Hope you enjoyed it!
In conclusion: to offset this unprecedented display of greed, I just donated $25 the food bank, because I'm an awesome person, and you are not. That's right... fear my philanthropy, bitch!