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Ear to the Ground

Obama Sends Rebs a Wreath

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Posted on May 25, 2009
White House / Lawrence Jackson

President Barack Obama participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

President Obama decided not to break with White House custom this Memorial Day and sent a wreath to honor the fallen Confederate soldiers who wanted nothing to do with the Union. But he also started a new and long-overdue tradition by honoring the hundreds of thousands of black Americans who fought against the South.

AP via Google:

Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, a customary presidential undertaking on Memorial Day. He also had one sent to the Confederate Memorial there, a traditional practice but not well publicized. Obama also took the unprecedented step of sending a wreath to the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington’s historically black U Street neighborhood.

That memorial—to the 200,000 blacks who fought for the North during the Civil War—had been mentioned as a compromise in recent days.

Presidents traditionally visit Arlington National Cemetery to personally leave a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, a marble structure holding the remains of unidentified U.S. service members who died during war. Presidents then have aides deliver wreaths to other memorials or monuments, generally including the Confederate Memorial.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, June 22, 2009 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

It wouldn’t matter what our flag was so long as the ethos of the country were sound. We could have one of clashing purple, black and hot pink with eyes and human phallus on it, but the Bill of Rights would be what counts. The flag is usually irrelevant to that. And too many fixate on the flag not the documents. That was my point.

When you worship the state then you have crossed the line. It is what happens when you have religion and idol worship of people. Fixation upon an object despite the more important aspects of it there may be behind it. It was why the Judeans made sure their god was invisible and formless to fight that anthropomorphization of other things instead of their god JHVH.

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By Scott Rev, June 20, 2009 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Flags represent the nation and if the nation is founded on laws derived from documents then the flags represent the beliefs contained in those documents.  That is why people get excited over them. People in free nations don’t go to war over flags they go because there is a threat to their collective interests.  Nationalism put an end to feudal systems , that made nearly all men slaves.  A nation’s whole reason for existing is to prevent other groups from imposing their will on that nation’s people. You should try living in a region with no national identity if you believe nationalism is all evil. But, it is true that people with influence and power try to manipulate the reins of power, but that will never change. 
I’m not 100% convinced that the Rebels are appropriately titled “Traitors”.  At the time half of the US believed it was within a State’s rights to withdraw from the Union and this was the reason for the war.
Regardless, I do not see anything wrong with the President honoring the memory of both groups mentioned in this story.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 26, 2009 at 9:45 am Link to this comment

Too often the ‘nationalism’ is really about the flags and other iconography of the nation-state, not the founding documents that are the true heart of the nation. Such fetishism of flags and other symbols are a bad sign that those who start wars and many who fight them are nationalists of the worshiping kind. People will swear allegiance to a flag but not even know what is in their founding documents (Constitution and Bill of Rights) or the history behind them. Such flag worship boarders on the pathological. What you find in fascist states where the flag is more important in any founding documents. But then the state is the machine and motivator of the inhabitants to “dance to their tune.”

There is no mention as to whether any presidents acknowledged the black soldiers before this. If not it is one of the few good gestures president Obama has done buy honoring all of them. Where even under sentimentality the former traitors can be honored as well. By that spirit I will accept that. [The dead won’t be complaining to us either way.]

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By reason, May 26, 2009 at 7:01 am Link to this comment

I am ashamed that so many have died in the name of “nationalistic patriotism”. If we want to honor those that have sacrificed so much, we should put an end to the lies and fears that fuels the desire for war. Courage and patriotism is about nurturing and loving our fellow man. I am sorry, when I think of all the people who could have lived, loved and helped build a world of peace rather than one of needless suffering but didn’t because we chose war. Fear is the fuel of war and it is always ignited by greed for profit and power by those who will not have to pay its cost in the human suffering that always results. Heroism isn’t about dying; it’s about living and honoring the value of life (yours and mine). Courage and honor comes from the struggle of living your life though you are aware that it doesn’t guarantee you personal material wealth and it always ends in death. Life only offers us a chance to learn from our mistakes, war is a result of ignoring lessons that can allow us to be more than we have been as people.

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By mike turner, May 25, 2009 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

pathetic that today in “modern” times, Americans can be cowed & brainwashed into starting a war with Iraq…...a segment of buffoons refuse to acknowledge that many socalled rebels who owned no slaves were cowed into a war initiated by the rich & powerful. Check out Rick Perry now….does anyone think he would carry through the violent implications of his inflammatory rhetoric? Frauds seem to continue to make great window dressing for the big money. No longer cotton…how’s that gas going? up baby!

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