Saturday, May 30, 2009

2,063 words about President Obama's Gramps 

The AP has a feature article up entitled "Obama's Gramps: Gazing skyward on D-Day in England." I do salute President Obama's grandfather, Stanley Dunham, and his brother-in-law Charles Payne, and Stanley's brother Ralph, all of whom served in the military during WWII, and any words of wisdom that Stanley passed down to his grandson having to do with maintaining a degree of vigilance against those who have totalitarian designs are certainly positive lessons.

I am not intending to be critical here of the POTUS or any members of his family; I'm just wondering, what's the point of the feature? It just seems to me that the AP piece tries way too hard to make the POTUS seem as though he is descended from a family of American heroes. I don't recall any similar articles about the WWII service of relatives of Presidents Clinton (if any) or George W. Bush over the last 16 years on various D-Day anniversaries. Today's coverage -- which is 2,063 words in length, a long piece by AP standards -- would be slightly more relevant had Stanley Dunham actually participated in the D-Day invasion in a combat role, rather than at "Stoney Cross, England, in the 1830th Ordnance Supply and Maintenance Co., Aviation," and bound for the continent six weeks later (again, in no way diminishing the importance of his service and the service of similarly situated vets). Maybe the AP could have saved this piece for next May's 65th anniversary of V-E Day.

It is almost as if the media (really, the AP specifically) is bending over backwards in this instance to make the POTUS seem more "American" in legacy terms, when, heck, he's the POTUS and a whole bunch of people voted for him -- how much more American does he have to be? So his father was Kenyan, and he spent some time outside of the U.S. growing up -- does it really matter at this point? I don't feel any less American because one of my parents was born outside of the U.S., nor should anyone of a similar mixed-nationality background feel that way or be perceived that way. Nous sommes tous américains.

I think it is accurate to say that the majority of Americans who are roughly President Obama's age (and I include myself in that group) have or had a grandfather, father, uncle or great uncle who served in the military during WWII. All of the WWII vets are heroes in one way or another. As I have posted previously, my father enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the fall of 1940 and finished up his active duty service in October 1945, after V-J Day (I believe he was hunting U-boats in the North Atlantic 65 years ago this week, and did not directly participate in Operation Overlord). Millions of other people roughly my age would have similar family stories, and some would have stories about the Normandy invasion in particular.

If the AP wants to write another 2,000-word piece about D-Day, perhaps some relatives of the 4,400 Allied KIA on June 6, 1944, might be interviewed, or the men who are still with us from the invasion force of 156,000 Allied troops who landed in Normandy that day could be profiled.


By Anonymous tyree, at Sat May 30, 06:00:00 PM:

I read the article and wondered the same thing. I welcome the fact that American war heroes are "in" again.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sat May 30, 06:03:00 PM:

Re: "All of the WWII vets are heroes in one way or another."

We really have made the word "hero" meaningless by tossing it around so much.

They were simply men who "did their duty." There is more than enough honor in that statement. Some of them were heroes.

OT: Although you didn't do it here, I also dislike it when you and other conservative bloggers talk about how today's military personnel are the best ever. I urge you to avoid comparisons between generations of soldiers. You think you're supporting today's troops. But what the comparisons really say is, "Hey, why risk your life? Forty years from now, not even conservatives will fully appreciate your sacrifices."

Today's men and women in the military know how good they are. They don't need outsiders to tell them.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Sat May 30, 06:33:00 PM:


OK, I think you have a valid point about the dimunition of the term "hero," which is why I tried to qualify it, apparently unsuccessfully. My father would agree with you that he simply "did his duty" (although he is still a hero to me).

I can't ever recall posting "how today's military personnel are the best ever," although certainly they are excellent. Please link to a post or a comment of mine where that is stated or implied (or forget about it if you did not mean to include me in your OT complaint). Besides my father, I have other ancestors who have served in the U.S. military over the past 233 years, so it would not make sense for me to say such a thing. Even if that was not the case, I am in no position to judge the relative merits of various generations of soldiers.

To the extent there is something unique about the current generation of military personnel, it is that they are drawn from a generation of people, the majority of whom would not have considered such service on a volunteer basis.

Anyone who has ever put on a U.S. uniform and given an honest effort is OK by me.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sat May 30, 06:53:00 PM:

I'm sorry, Escort81. I always glance at the top of posts, but for some reason I thought TigerHawk wrote this one. My remark about comparisons applies to TH, not you. And his post was quite some time ago.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat May 30, 08:06:00 PM:

It is fair that no one's written much about Dubya's dad's war service on D Day. At the time he was flying against the Japanese in the Pacific and in the process of earning a Distinguished Flying Cross and 3 Air Medals.

The Pacific War usually gets more attention in August.  

By Blogger Whiskey, at Sat May 30, 08:38:00 PM:

The article is bogus because Obama by his own book, "Dreams from my Father: A story of RACE AND INHERITANCE," disowned pretty much his White half and embraced his Kenyan half.

While his White Grandfather was part of Operation Overlord, his Kenyan/African Grandfather was part of a pro-Nazi ring, and was later a Mau-Mau terrorist.

Its' because the Brits arrested his African Grandfather (the only one Obama actually cares about), that Obama un-invited the only head of State in the European region who is a WWII vet: Queen Elizabeth. Who drove trucks during the War. It may not have been great service, but service it was.

Obama hates the British, because he's a "Race Man." Just read his own book, where he idolizes his terrorist, pro-Nazi Grandpa, his drunken polygamous father, and ignores his White family tree except for the bit where he declares himself in sympathy for Malcolm X's desire to kill some random White Guy to purge his White blood from his veins.

Obama has always been deeply ashamed and angry at his White heritage. This is pretty common for most people of mixed race descent. Alicia Keyes, Halle Berry, and Mariah Carey all have made similar statements about their repudiation of their White ancestry.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Sat May 30, 08:48:00 PM:

Generally, the only thing that gets attention from the liberal media in August is Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

My father-in-law, a veteran of the 3rd Marine division said this wasn't always so. "They used to write about us," he said, "but not any more".

I hope this August we will here a little more about the Americans that won the war.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Sun May 31, 11:07:00 AM:

I have relatives who died on both sides in WW II, German and American. My German great uncles where both in the Wehrmacht, were doing what they thought was their duty, and were grossly misled by a criminal regieme.

Rather than glorify WW II and those who served in it, we should recognize what a tragedy it was for almost everyone who died in it.

That's my 2 cents.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Sun May 31, 12:21:00 PM:

Viking Kaj -

This opens up a whole can of worms and probably belongs in its own separate post, but the "grossly misled by a criminal regime" concept needs a bit more color and depth. Your fairly unusual family background gives you a cerain perspective (is a German-American like a "Latina female" in that respect?, heh) and leads you to express a sentiment that most Americans use when discussing the Civil War.

Having just watched "Valkyrie" last night on DVD, I can intellectually understand your point to a degree, but obviously this is an emotional hot button for many Americans. It is still a subject of some historical debate regarding the extent to which the German people as a whole (passively or actively) and all or part of its military were complicit in the crimes of the Nazi Party. I think that in looking at that question, it might be helpful to regard the 1933-39 time period as one distinct segment and the war years (after September 1939) as another segment. While it is difficult to condemn 100% of all German citizens during those time periods, it is not a stretch to say that a vast majority of Germans were fairly content with the Nazi regime, at least until Germany started losing on the battlefield and the Fatherland started to feel the direct effects of those losses.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sun May 31, 05:46:00 PM:

It's helpful to remember a basic trait of Germanic tribes, Escort81.

During the days of the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages, German warriors were loyal to the chief. The chief defined the cause.

That's one reason why many Roman leaders used German bodyguards.

And that's one reason why instructors at the U.S. Army War College used to say, "You haven't fought in a war until you've fought the Germans."  

By Blogger DEC, at Sun May 31, 05:56:00 PM:

This comment has been removed by the author.  

By Blogger DEC, at Sun May 31, 06:31:00 PM:

P.S. In the case of Prussia, citizens believed "Prussian virtues" played an important role in the rise of their country. These virtues included discipline, sacrifice, perfect organization, and OBEDIENCE to authority.  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Mon Jun 01, 11:24:00 AM:

Yep, all the cranky, authority-rejecting ones seem to have left Germany and came here. (Mostly in this section of Kansas, in my opinion :)  

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