Obama “Insensitive, Cruel To Veterans And Familes” On Memorial Day Says Ex-U.S. Cavalry Captain

May 31, 2012

A retired Army Lieutenant General, John B. Sylvester maintains that, unlike in previous years and under previous presidents, hundreds, if not thousands, of veterans, their families, friends and others, were turned away during their simple attempts to honor their fallen comrades and family members on Memorial Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, commonly referred to as The Wall, in Washington, D.C. This would appear to confirm an earlier blog report at Thoughts from a Conservative Mom blog.

The claim is that a decision by the Obama administration put a political speech meant to bolster his chances at re-election, above the desires, traditions and practices of many Vietnam-era military members and their families, who have been coming together at The Wall on Memorial Day for decades, now. No notice was given regarding the closing due to Obama's decision to use The Wall as backdrop in his Memorial Day speech.

Sources insist it remained closed for hours, until most simply grew frustrated and went away. For decades, individuals have been coming together there on Memorial Day to perform simple acts and observances in keeping with America's established Memorial Day tradition.

In a story the mainstream media has thus far ignored, it was "an insult to veterans that was insensitve to the point of being cruel," said a former U.S. Calvary Captain, when contacted. Additionally, in an exclusive interview, retired Army Lieutenant General John B. Sylvester spoke of the many previous years he's visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor his fallen comrades, while re-connecting with brothers-in-arms still living, … before visiting the graves of his Mother, Father, Sister-in-law and Brother at Arlington National Cemetery … another tradition the Silver Star winner was deprived up this year, thanks to Barack Obama's political ambitions. That experience may have resulted from bad timing, assuming Sylvester went there while an entrance was closed temporarily for some reason. 

From Vietnam, to both Gulf Wars, with a Silver Star awarded during Desert Storm, as well as three tours in the Balkans, Sylvester's military career is storied, as evidenced in his Wiki, confirmed during our interview. A "decorated veteran of both the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, who commanded the famed Tiger Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division attached to the 2nd Marine Division in the first Gulf War, and his three tours of duty in the Balkans culminating as the commander of SFOR"

Obama polls poorly among military personnel and family members. "If this gets reported by the media," which it won't in Sylvester's opinion, "Obama won't get a single vote" from military voters, or those seen as aligned with them, in his opinion. Sylvester may have a point.

While Obama has sometimes participated in wreath laying ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery, until this year as he prepares to run for re-election, Obama has never seemed to have the time to monopolize events in Washington on Memorial Day, allegedly freezing out the overwhelming majority of veterans and their families at The Wall, as he did this year. As Hot Air reported in 2011, "How does a wartime President observe Memorial Day? For the second time in three years, the current wartime President spent a respectful day somberly considering … the draw on the seventh hole."

In fact, in 2010, his salute to the military could have been characterized as yelling fore from the fairway, or perhaps, let Joe Biden do it, "Obama to skip wreath laying at Arlington for Memorial Day; makes sure not to miss Paul McCartney". He took a great deal of heat for that. As pointed out at that link, while a visit to Arlington is far from mandated, there were reasons why some expected it in 2010, "some will say that past presidents chose not to attend services at Arlington National Cemetery at various times during their terms.  Ronald Reagan, for example, missed services at Arlington during 1981, since he was at his ranch in California recuperating after being shot in an assassination attempt … However, Reagan also exhibited a deep love for America and it's soldiers.  An attribute sadly lacking from the current Commander-In-Chief".

But this year, with his political career at stake in November and low support among military-aligned voters, Obama did more than show up. In fact, it's claimed that, just so Barack Obama could mouth the very words below, hundreds, if not thousands of veterans, Vietnam and otherwise, were being turned away for hours, with most just giving up, going away frustrated, angry and perhaps eventually saddened. According to reports, from there, they mostly gathered in small groups on corners and in one case, at a hot dog stand, instead of a Wall with their dead comrades names etched in it, to observe their annual Memorial Day rites and traditions.

Barack Obama: ”They fought for a home they might never return to; they fought for buddies they’ll never forget. While their stories may be separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles, they rest here, together. Side by side, row by row. Because each of them loved this country and everything it stands for more than life itself.”

“As a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that nobody should have to bear alone,” he said.

Contrast those words with these of Silver Star recipient, retired Lt. General John Sylvester, contained in a shared email, describing what he saw and experienced on Memorial Day, as an accomplished, highly-decorated veteran.

I just wanted a bunch of you to know about this travesty. When we were
turned away from The Wall, I went to lay wreaths on my Mom and Dad and Brother and Sister’s graves at Arlington. Guess what? They had that closed for the great man too!!! Not sure who his canned audiences were at either place, but not many veterans like the thousands of guys I saw going away pretty angry.

According to an update in an initial blog report, "'The National Park Service, Public Affairs, and Vietnam Veterans of America all confirmed the shut-down when contacted by phone. VVA said that all the guests had to be pre-screened for security reasons, and it would have been “very difficult” to give advance notice to all the families and vets who arrived to find it closed.'"

Reactions from veterans who were turned away for lack of a White House pass from the Obama administration, range from outraged to saddened when read, or heard for this report, based on multiple confirmed, seemingly reliable sources. Unlike the mainstream media, the blog that did report on the reality of events of this Memorial Day caused me to take a closer look.

Below some additional reflections taken from emails shared with me and approved for publication.

I saw this first hand and I bet you won’t hear about this from the Liberal media… Vietnam veterans and the families of Vietnam veterans killed in action whose names are etched on the Wall were denied access to their memorial today, of all days, Memorial Day. The Vietnam Memorial was shutdown, cleared and secured for approximately 5 hours prior to Obama, his cronies and hand picked veterans for a 15 minute appearance by Obama. It’s obvious it was all for show. 

Hundreds if not thousands of Vietnam veterans and families of Vietnam veterans killed in Vietnam stood in disbelief as Secret Service, Park Police, Washington DC Police, etc., blocked all access to the Vietnam Memorial and kept everyone approximately 100 yards away from their memorial for the first time in the history of the Memorial so Obama could get some photos of him at the Wall. Veterans in uniforms stood in the heat angered as Obama makes them wait. It was a photo op at their expense and families of those killed in Vietnam.

Finally, as opposed to Obama's lofty Memorial Day prose, now exposed as just words, perhaps this raw email from more that were shared stands as the clearest image of what Barack Obama represented, as he stood before The Wall and uttered some words on Memorial Day, 2012, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States.

Today at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial…The Wall, as I usually do each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I joined my fellow Soldiers I served with in Vietnam to lay a wreath for our fallen at the Vietnam Veterans Wall.

We always gather at 0903 hours at the Three Soldier’s Monument. There we meet for a while and talk, see how everyone is doing, if anyone needs help, introduce any new guys from out of town who are visiting, new guys who are joining us for the first time, introduce any members of our family or friends who have come with us, always followed by a few remarks about fellow members of the Blackhorse Regiment who had passed since we had last gathered and then we welcome each other home.

Today after walking across Memorial Bridge and rounding the Lincoln Memorial I saw our guys all gathering outside of a barricade around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

When I joined them I found out to my total disbelief that we could not enter. No veterans allowed. The reason was that Obama was coming there to make a speech and the area was closed to everyone except special people with special passes until his speech was over 5 hours later. I was stunned. Thousands of Vietnam veterans gathering like us with wreaths in hand to recognize our fallen and turned away so that a politician could give a speech. Most of us had been there when Reagan spoke, Bush 41 and 43 had spoken, even Clinton, although most of us turned our backs on him in one of the largest, silent protests ever…seen by everyone…stinging in its impact…totally unreported by the media…but even then, we were not turned away.

Today we were. I saw where in a poll where Obama is over 25 points behind Romney with Vets…if they all had seen what we experienced today and knew what had transpired, the spread would be much wider.

I doubt if this will even be reported in the media. But, it should. This was not our day…it was their day…the boys who lost their lives. But it was their brothers day to come and touch their names on the Wall and remember them. It was also Decoration Day…the day we recognize those who gave all for all of us. It was not about our narcissist president and his attempt to appeal to the Vietnam Vets for votes. Shut out, we met next to a hot dog stand under a shade tree and held our semi-annual ritual for our fallen. Later that day, one of our men stayed behind and saw to it that the wreath was placed at that section of the Wall when we lost the most during the war.

We won every battle in that war and were denied victory. We had to listen to an illiterate world say that we had lost our war. Our troops suffered more degradation, insult, hatred, and disgust from our countrymen than all other US troops from all wars combined. We came  home to a country that didn’t want us…and to many countrymen who loathed us…but yet we persevered. Today…was just one more cut…but it was a cut that will not heal any time soon. (name redacted)

Godspeed to all of America's warrior heroes living and God bless our fallen, as it should be, always, but most especially on Memorial Day. If we can't place their needs and desires above ours then, then when can we, or a president do it? That seems a worthwhile question to ask under any circumstance, in my opinion.

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  1. Ragspierre says:

    Obama did something that…by design…was entirely self-centered and self-serving…?
    The sun rose in the East.

  2. arm exercise says:

    You made some decent points there. I looked on the web for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

  3. Ron Christopher says:

    The article says, a Calvary Officer. It should read Cavalry Officer.

  4. JK says:

    While I believe what is written here is true (because making it up sounds ludicrous and easily disproven if untrue), the article is not served well by only quoting veterans who clearly disliked Obama before this incident. This fact will make it easy for sceptics to dismiss this story as just hyperbolic Obama bashing. We need more objectivism and less “liberal media is the devil” rhetoric.
    Thank you to all veterans for making this country and all its freedoms possible. Everytime I express my opinions like this I remember that it is only possible because of your sacrifices.

  5. Island Walker says:

    Wondering why he didn’t stage his speech at the WWII Memorial? Hmmm? How many of those veteran voters are still alive? God bless America and save us from the politicians.

  6. This image, for example, is optically distorted in a way that is complimentary to the odd body position and goofy glasses of the young girl. His composition seems out of kilter the same way she must feel out of kilter in her tween years between childhood and young adult. She has the pose of nonchalance, but the swim goggles of a child.

  7. The article is 100% pure BS. But those who hate Obama will eat it up.

  8. I like your sharing.

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