06/01/10 — Arlington slight: Presidents have missed before, but President Obama made a mistake

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Arlington slight: Presidents have missed before, but President Obama made a mistake

Other presidents have made the decision not to attend the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day.

And President Barack Obama is certainly within his rights to decide to send someone else to the event. After all, he is the commander in chief.

However, this year, at this time, the president made a bad choice -- to exchange his chance to honor those who have given their lives in service to America for an afternoon of barbecue with friends in Chicago.

Well, it was a little more complicated than that, but in essence, the president sent the vice president to do a duty that should be one he considers an honor as well as an obligation.

President Obama does not have the greatest rapport with the military community. He has made some comments -- as have some members of his inner circle -- that suggest that he does not value the mission or the jobs that America's armed forces are doing around the world. He says he values those who serve, but has suggested on a number of occasions that perhaps it is time for American troops to do less policing around the world.

So, to the average eye, the fact that he chose not to attend an enormously symbolic event on a day to honor the generations of veterans who have died securing the freedoms of people around the world, is a statement. And, although we hope it wasn't, it might appear also to be a signal to those who do not agree with America's military gameplan that he does not either.

This was President Obama's chance to show millions of service members past and present that he understands and respects their sacrifice. He squandered the opportunity -- and there will be many who will not forget. After all, actions speak much louder than words.

Published in Editorials on June 1, 2010 10:22 AM