Monday, June 21, 2010

AMERICA - The Arlington National Cemetery Blasphemy

This post is about the "blasphemy" that occurred at the Arlington National Cemetery (included in transcript). As a veteran, I do consider what happened to be blasphemy against our Nation and the men/women who defended it.

"Shields and Brooks on Barton's Apology, Obama's Pressure on BP" PBS Newshour Transcript 6/18/2010


JIM LEHRER (Newshour): And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

JIM LEHRER: All right. Let's talk for a moment here about the Arlington Cemetery problem. Talk about a BP situation, this is -- this is relevant, is it not, similar?

MARK SHIELDS: This is -- if BP and that continuing 60,000 gallons a day is a metaphor for government not being able to work and the corporate structure not being able to work, Arlington Cemetery is a blasphemy of and a metaphor of ineptitude.

I mean, what we have found out, in this marvelous place, for 144 years -- 146 years, since 1864 -- Americans have been buried there who qualified the standards to meet military service. And, I mean, there are all kinds of famous people. There is Audie Murphy, who killed 240 Germans in World War II.

JIM LEHRER: From Farmersville, Texas, Audie Murphy of Farmersville, Texas, yes.


MARK SHIELDS: That's right, the most decorated American in World War II. There's young Naval lieutenants, one who became president, Jack Kennedy. Another became Supreme Court chief justice, Earl Warren. There's Joe Louis.


MARK SHIELDS: But there's 300,000 people, Jim, who aren't famous, and whose families go there for a connection, for consolation.

And we find out that at least 211 graves are misidentified, misplaced, and wrong headstones. This is not rocket science. I mean, this is -- these people are entitled to it. We owe them the respect. And it's -- to me, it is truly an outrage, and it makes me sad and angry simultaneously.



DAVID BROOKS: Well, Mark used the word blasphemy. I mean, it is sacred. I mean, it's a different level of -- there are very few things that happen in this town -- they're mostly about tax policy. But the remains of these Marines, soldiers, everyone are -- they are sacred.

And, so, to mess up on that is really to trample on something that's very important. But this, as well as BP, as well as a lot of things we have seen in this town, or in the country for a long time, it is about execution.

And we have a very high regard for vision. I write. You know, we do all this.


DAVID BROOKS: It's -- vision's important. But actually executing properly, getting the proper computer system there, even after millions have been spent, executing in the Gulf, executing on an oil platform, that is underplayed in a society that likes something fancy, something oratorical, but actually executing is tremendously important, upon which everything else exists. And we have a failure of execution on BP, a failure of execution I think now in the Gulf, and certainly at Arlington.


Do you agree, that's the over message -- that's the overriding message here, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, it is. I mean, and it's to Secretary of the Army McHugh's credit. I mean, I think his anger with this was genuine. And I think you have to really give credit to the reporter for Salon.mag, Mark -- what's his name? Oh, boy oh, boy, I should remember it. And I should -- I do know it.

JIM LEHRER: You mean Salon... (article)






JIM LEHRER:, an online...


MARK SHIELDS: And he did -- and he did all of the -- and I apologize for that -- he did all the reports, and he's done them over the last year, Jim, and he finally forced the inspector general of the Army to address it.

JIM LEHRER: The inspector general made the report, and the secretary of the Army announced it, made it public, and...


MARK SHIELDS: Yes. And the two top civilian heads have been relieved of duty.

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