President Obama will not be visiting Arlington National Cemetery this year for Memorial Day. Instead, he is sending VP Joe Biden while he visits a national cemetery in Chicago. When I first heard about this decision I didn’t know he was going to be visiting a cemetery in Chicago and was quite disgusted that the President would skip out on honoring our fallen servicemembers. Wisely, he is at least attending a memorial site unlike some of our previous presidents as pointed out by the linked article. However, I think it is in poor taste that he chose to visit a site in his home town where he is apparently not required to be, but simply planned to visit for the weekend. It seems Memorial Day is primarily a vacation day and PR opportunity for this President while our service men and women struggle with what are now “his wars”. Memorial Day should be a particularly somber event for a President who has committed significantly more troops to one war and has not ended another as promised.
Indeed, there are numerous national cemeteries, but Arlington National Cemetery is THE national symbol of the ultimate sacrifice. Visiting it should not be a matter of convenience for a wartime president- it should be a commitment of respect that must be met at all reasonable cost.