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.
The new president’s perceived “slights” against the military have made veterans and military members quite sensitive to how President Obama treats them. From calling for a pullout from Iraq during the campaign to forgoing a visit to injured GWOT vets in Germany, we have kept an eye on his every move and decision with regards to our nation’s finest. This “change” appears to have set the tone for the rest of his administration. To forgo a tradition of greeting the veterans who’ve received the highest honor in order to attend galas featuring Hollywood elites was just a bit too much to bear.
Even in his inaugural address to the nation, he mentioned the sacrifices of veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but failed to mention (or deliberately ignored) the veterans of our current sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. That gives more credence to the feeling that he just no longer cares about the sacrifices being made on behalf of our country and the service that so many Americans have made over the years.
In the blogsphere, reaction was swift and vocal. At the blog This Ain’t Hell But You Can See It from Here, which was one of the first to post on this issue, writer “TSO” writes about his getting to meet and interview six of the Medal of Honor recipients at the gathering. He was there to meet the heroes and also to get a chance to see the president (given the former tradition of his attending). Jonn Lilyea, of the same blog, then calls attention to the fact that the president did not attend. The negative comments were swift in coming, with most of them being unprintable.
In a fair and just world this country would accept no excuse and no reason for this snub and he’d be held in scorn for this. But since he has no honor, nor do many/most of his supporters they’ll overlook this issue. (Shovelhead)
And that was just one of the nicer ones.
From commenters at Ace of Spades:
The judgment question isn’t that he should’ve gone to this and didn’t; it’s that he could’ve gone to this and didn’t. (Firehorse)
Little Green Footballs had over one thousand comments on the issue. Suffice it to say, none were any prettier than those above.
The fact that all the other presidents, of both parties, were able to attend the ball and not be seen as choosing Hollywood and rappers over sacrifice and honor says volumes about our new president and the direction he is taking us.
Two days into his job as president and he’s already got a lot of ground to make up with those who truly count — the ones who’ve laid down their lives for their country.
After filing this story earlier this week, the topic has taken on a life of its own, and has indeed gone “viral” on the internet. In the comment sections of the linked stories within the original post, there are those that claim the event “never took place,” and that this is indeed a “sham story originated by those on the Right.”
A sample comment, common to all the news stories carrying this:
Pajamas Media got punked with a fake story. Ironic since their very name came from a dismissive remark made by a CBS executive about people sitting around in pajamas on the Internet thinking the great Dan Rather would put out fake stuff.
Well. PJM just did the same …[T]he usual fools on the Right. The respected figures on the Right’s media are not going with this dreck. PJM swallowed it hook line and sinker.
A simple check would find that the Legion gave a luncheon for MOHs that President Obama could not attend because he was committed to another luncheon of Americans grateful he could be with them. There was no Salute to Heroes Ball There was the Commander in Chiefs Ball, which Obama did attend. (Cedarford)
Well, I’m here to tell you differently — with a press release from the American Legion. There was a ball, the vice president was there (as were many other dignitaries) and the naysayers just won’t even acknowledge this.
From American Legion spokesman Craig Roberts:
The American Legion, as it has on every inauguration evening since 1953, hosted the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Banquet & Ball on January 20th. The quadrennial event is co-sponsored with fourteen veterans service and military service organizations and honors recipients of the Medal of Honor. Forty-seven of these heroes attended this year’s event which was held in the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel.
President Obama was invited but did not attend. Vice-President Joe Biden did appear, however, and was very warmly received. The new President’s absence was understandable considering the unprecedented logistical challenges presented by the vastly increased number of visitors to this inauguration and the necessary attendant security measures. The Vice President was able to join us this evening, and we are thankful he was able to make the time to do so.
Media Relations Manager
The American Legion
1608 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Mr. Roberts told me directly that the ball indeed took place, and that he’s been working with their media department to get some information and links up on their www.legion.org homepage.
So for those that are saying this is a “bogus” event, and that this is just a “dig” on the new administration, you’re only half-right.
The rest of the story, as they say, is even more interesting than what I can release here …
— Mr. Wolf
BTW- there are also a lot of naysayers that doubt my existence. Head over to BlackFive. I regularly write there, as well as other outlets. Look under ‘Authors’ on the right side — you’ll see me listed. As for my “nom de guerre?” Go watch the film Pulp Fiction… you’ll get the idea.