Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Shame and an Outrage

I went to Arlington National Cemetery yesterday because once a decade or so, it’s good to realize that an awful lot of people made the ultimate sacrifice so we could be here now.  What surprised me was that the place was open for business.  It is, after all, government run. It should have been closed, like the rest of the country.

If you’re not from around here, meaning the Washington, DC area, you might not know that Arlington Cemetery covers 624 acres of land in Virginia, just across the river from the Nation’s Capital.  Twenty-seven to 30 funerals are held there daily. It is the last resting place for some 265,000 citizens, mostly men and women of the armed forces, and their spouses.  There are also a lot of Senators, cabinet secretaries and politicians of medium or little importance. JFK and his two brothers are buried there, as is Jacky. So are Audie Murphy and Pierre L’Enfant.  The Army’s Old Guard stands watch, and the cemetery is also the site of the Unknown (actually, now known) Soldier. The eternal flame is there too, currently under repair and fed by a large propane tank.

But back to the government.

Doesn’t the fact that Arlington Cemetery was open imply that the government has a lot more respect for the 265,000 dead than for the 800,000 furloughed government workers and the millions of Americans impacted by the furlough?

The government shutdown is more than simply a shame; it’s an outrage, a sharp slap in the faces of the citizenry. How it was allowed to happen is demonstrative of a system on the brink of failure. And the fact that hardly anyone has taken to the streets in protest is further evidence that the apathy is not just on Capitol Hill, it’s in our homes as well.

The US has an appallingly low voter turnout for local and national elections. In many areas, the ones who go to the polls are the fringe element of the right and the left, and the people they elect represent their interests. Many have an abiding dislike, if not an outright hate, for government as a whole. Congress knows this. It caters to that element. Our elected representatives also know our memory is shot. Come the next election, we will have forgotten that this country was brought to a stop by a group of men and women--our elected officials-- bent on having a tragic pissing match.

We deserve better than a bunch of yoyos in expensive suits, which is pretty much what we have now. Their actions demonstrate an appalling lack of respect for both the nation and its people.

Next time around, go and vote. Throw the bums out. 




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