Shame on President Obama for doing the photo op at the Vietnam War Memorial on Memorial Day and double shame on him if it was his idea. I’m hoping it wasn’t. Even though I don’t always agree with him, I saw him as a man with more sensibilities and compassion. But maybe that was before he got caught up in the political system and started listening to political advisers.
In addition to all the veterans and families of veterans who came to Washington that weekend to visit the Wall, about 140,000 members of the organization, Rolling Thunder, had ridden motorcycles from across the country to meet up and honor the fallen who are memorialized. It was the official Rolling Thunder XXV “Ride for Freedom”, and one of my friends had made the trip from Omaha, NE. To say he was disappointed is an understatement.
Since the beginning of recorded history there have been incidents of genocide that are so horrible one can hardly get his or her mind around it. Ben Kiernan, a Yale scholar, has labelled the destruction of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War (149–146 BC) “The First Genocide”, and more recent history includes the 1890 massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee by the United States military, the killing of millions during the Holocaust and the ongoing genocide in the countries of Africa.
In this day of enlightenment, one would hope we could get past these barbaric acts, but it appears we never will. The genocide continues across Africa and now there has been more mass killings in Syria that some consider genocide.
Every time I read about the horrors we inflict on each other, I wonder why. I found one answer when I was researching one of my nonfiction books on bigotry and found this book by Adam Jones, Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. In it he states that people throughout history have always had the ability to see other groups as alien. “People have always had a name for themselves. In a great many cases, that name meant ‘the people’ to set the owners of that name off against all other people who were considered of lesser quality. If the differences between the people and some other society were particularly large in terms of religion, language, manners, or customs, then those others were seen as less than fully human. If they are considered less than human, then they could be a threat and should be eliminated”
That thinking has created the Them or Us mentality that fuels bigotry and the atrocious acts that come out of bigotry. Do you think we will ever grow out of this?
On a much more pleasant note,I read an article in The Dallas Morning News about a teen in Arlington who spearheaded a wonderful act of kindness following the tornado that tore through the town in April. Kate Atwood and her mother drove around after the storm and noted how many people were digging through wreckage to try to find pictures and mementos that may have survived the devastation. Kate got the idea of trying to help, and she enlisted the aid of librarians at Lake Arlington Branch Library. About 40 people have joined the effort to bring pictures and other items to the library where residents can come and claim them. According to the news article, about three-quarters of the items have been claimed.
Kudos to Kate and all the others who are helping to bring these treasured pictures and mementos home.