President Obama kept tradition in one way and possibly started a new one in another. There are other ceremonies and remembrances during Memorial Day than just the famed laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There has existed a long standing tradition by American presidents to send a wreath to the Confederate dead. Some see this as glorifying the Confederacy and racist and treasonous behavior from White Nationalist in American history. Others say that the Confederate dead where Americans too, and like all Americans they fought for their country and homes. They sacrificed as much as any before or since.They should not be forgotten and cast away as if their sacrifices have no merit.
President Obama faced a slightly complicated decision. As a black president, should he continue the presidential tradition by honoring the Confederate dead? He did. But he also started something new by honoring the 200,000 blacks who fought for the North in the Civil War (some fought for the South too). He sent a second wreath to the African-American Civil War Memorial just across the Potomac River.
The New York Times released an article on the events and the President’s remarks.
A 21-gun salute, the honor accorded all heads of state, greeted Mr. Obama upon his arrival here. After placing the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the president delivered a 12-minute speech in which he paid tribute to “those who paid the ultimate price so that we may know freedom.”
Mr. Obama did not mention the wreath-laying controversy in his remarks in the soaring marble columned coliseum. Instead, he asked all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. on Monday for a moment of remembrance. And he addressed head-on his own lack of military service, in one of the few passages that brought applause from the crowd.
“My grandfather served in Patton’s army in World War II; I cannot know what it is like to walk into battle,” the president said. “I’m the father of two young girls, but I can’t imagine what it is like to lose a child. These are things I cannot know. But I do know this: I am humbled to be the commander-in-chief of the finest fighting force in the history of the world.”
As a Civil War buff, I have no problem with what the President decided to do. In fact, it was the only thing to do in keeping with the other tradition.