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Memorials Tag

Every year on November 25 we remember Johnny Micheal ("Mike") Spann, the first American killed in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. It was on that date in 2001 that Spann was killed during a Taliban prisoner uprising at the Qala-i-Jangi fortress. The "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh was being held and interrogated at the fortress, though it remains unclear what if any direct role he played in Spann's death.

As Americans across the nation begin Memorial Day weekend with thoughts and prayers honoring our nation's fallen heroes, vandals defaced veteran memorials in California, Kentucky, and Virginia. ABC News reports:
Memorials to veterans in a Los Angeles neighborhood and a town in Kentucky, as well as a Civil War veterans cemetery in Virginia, were damaged as the nation prepares to mark Memorial Day, officials said. A Vietnam War memorial in the Venice area of Los Angeles has been extensively defaced by graffiti. The vandalism occurred sometime during the past week, KCAL/KCBS-TV ( reported. The homespun memorial painted on a block-long wall on Pacific Avenue lists the names of American service members missing in action or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. News of the vandalism came as another veterans-related memorial was reported damaged in Henderson, Kentucky. Police say a Memorial Day cross display there that honors the names of 5,000 veterans of conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War has been damaged by a driver who plowed through the crosses early Saturday.

The story "The Man Without a Country" used to be standard reading matter for seventh graders. In fact, it was the first "real" book---as opposed to those tedious Dick and Jane readers---that I was assigned in school. It was exciting compared to Dick and Jane and the rest, since it dealt with an actual story that had some actual drama to it. It struck me as terribly sad---and unfair, too---that Philip Nolan was forced to wander the world, exiled, for one moment of cursing the United States. "The Man Without a Country" was the sort of paean to patriotism that I would guess is rarely or never assigned nowadays to students. Patriotism has gotten a bad name during the last few decades. This trend seems to have taken root (at least in this country) with the 60s, the Vietnam era, and the rise in influence of the left. But patriotism and nationalism were rejected by a significant segment of Europeans even earlier, as a result of the devastation both sentiments wrought on that continent during World War II. (Of course, WWII in Europe was a result mainly of German nationalism run amok, but it seems to have given nationalism as a whole a very bad name, a trend that began after the carnage of World War I.)

What happens when the money backing a war memorial dries up? The doors shut, tourists and veterans are turned away, and the memorabilia and plaques inside languish under a layer of dust. This is exactly what has happened to the Brooklyn War Memorial. The Memorial, built 64 years ago, has never been accessible to the general public, which means that only a few people have ever been able to stand before the 11,000 names etched into its inside walls, representing Brooklynites who died fighting in World War II. According to a GoFundMe page set up by the Cadman Park Conservancy, the memorial is in need of a serious overhaul; new stone work, new roof, new electric, new plumbing, new glass, insulation, and a handicapped accessible ramp, bathrooms, and elevator are all needed before the site can be completely opened to visitors. Getting the site up to speed is going to be an enormous undertaking---but a devoted group of veterans and supporters are determined to make that dream a reality. Yesterday, the surrounding community rallied at the memorial to honor the fallen and kick off the restoration effort: