President and Mrs. Obama have given a lot of lip service to the support of our military and their families, but is it a genuine commitment or mere pandering? There is ample photographic and video-graphic proof of both the President and First Lady’s attendance at and participation in events for our military, particularly with military kids. While this is both laudable and noble, the policies promulgated by this President in the past four years that directly affect our servicemen and women, their families and our veterans present a very different picture.
Sequestration. Limits on Tri-Care eligibility. Cuts in military spending that directly impact the daily lives of our men and women currently living, fighting and dying on the front lines around the world. Unfunding VA programs, saying they are superfluous or redundant under the yet realized programs of Obamacare. Backlogs in the VA system causing delays of thirteen months and more for our newest veterans. These are just some of the actions taken in the past four years by this President while he and his wife are mugging for the cameras.
The Inauguration of our President is steeped in tradition. Every move, every word, every choice of speaker is examined and is said to either support long-standing tradition or being remarked upon as a break with the past. Tonight, while the Inaugural frenzy is in full swing in Washington D.C., there is one old tradition that is being replaced with a new one. The first time it happened, it was a precedent. With it’s second occurrence it is the beginning of a tradition, and one that has deep implications. The first time, we weren’t aware of the meaning; this time, we are forewarned. And concerned for what it will mean for our military and veterans over the next four years.
Since 1953, the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball has been attended by every President. This Ball is unique in that it is held in honor of and attended by Medal of Honor recipients, those warriors who have been given our Nation’s highest award for their selfless and heroic service on the field of battle. Particularly while we are a Nation at war, this Ball, these honorees are imbued with even more importance, for the simple recognition that each and every one of the recipients of this highest award stands for his brothers in arms who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Each of them has said it is both the highest honor and the heaviest burden they bear but the one that gives them the most pride, this standing for those who have laid down their lives for this, our Nation. Every newly minted President since 1953 has recognized the importance of this Ball and the symbolic support of their attendances. Except for the President who campaigned and won on the promise of Hope and Change. Then again, maybe the symbolism wasn't lost on him and it is those who believed the pretty words of support that missed the intent of his declination.
In 2009, the newly elected President of Hope and Change decided against honoring this Ball with his attendance. In his first four years, this President has given as much if not more lip service to our military than many of his fourteen predecessors who did attend the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball, and for that due credit is deserved; what the President says is repeated endlessly in our culture of twenty-four-seven news, and at least the words of support for our military have been given air time and have become part of our modern social lexicon. However, what the President does in support of our military has real world, real time effects on the lives of those to whom words of support and encouragement are rendered meaningless and empty by the policies and actions taken in the past four years.
This year, the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball will once again be attended by our Medal of Honor recipients. This year, our President will once again decline to attend. Perhaps our next President will actually mean it when he says he supports our military, their families and our veterans. Our first hint may well be whether or not that future President attends the one Ball, the one Inauguration event held by and in honor of those who have taken the oath to support and defend our Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic beyond mere words. For now, we’ll have to continue to hope for change with this President.