Here it is less than 72 hours into a new administration and the blogs have already been burning up the internet over a major snub by our new president.
What is the slight that they’re feeling? What’s got them all bunched up? A party — one the new president failed to show up for.
Every four years during inauguration evening (the galas began in 1809), groups vie for a visit from the incoming president, his wife, and anyone from his ticket. For decades, the “official” and “unofficial” galas have hoped to get a short visit from the president. He would take a few turns on the dance floor, say a few words to those gathered, and move on to the next one. Typically, these galas and balls consist of groups of people that have a common theme or background — from youth groups (H.O.P.E. Inaugural Youth Ball) to the National Council on Women ball. Which ones the new president attends say much about his priorities (right or wrong) and which demographics he may hold in high esteem.
In this case, the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, as well as other veteran’s groups, were sponsoring their gala that has coincided with the inaugural evening since Eisenhower took office in 1953. In total, nine presidents and 56 years have gone by, and each inaugural evening the new president arrived to thank the veterans and Medal of Honor recipients in attendance. As one of the “unofficial” balls, it meant quite a bit to have the president show up and make an appearance.
Except this time.
The president and first lady, for the first time in those ensuing 56 years, did not make an appearance at the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball. In attendance at the gala were 48 of the 99 living recipients of our nation’s highest honor. Of the 99 who are still with us, not even half are in any condition or possess the wherewithal to travel to such an event. And by the next inauguration, likely half of those won’t be with us.
Making this evening even more special was the fact that it is the 50th anniversary of the Medal of Honor Society, which has been working hard to reach out to people to educate them about its members.