1/15/2006

Daily Kos: A Small American Tradition Bites the Dust

to scrape 48 more bodies up to toss into the body-chipper of Iraq, they're willing to scrap a century and half of tradition? Please tell me we aren't that desperate for military personnel. Please. Tell me that.

SusanG blogs:

... it struck me hard this morning as a highly symbolic act:

Academy Ends a 155-Year Tradition
After Sunday, Marines will no longer guard military college or carry out ceremonial duties

What this Baltimore Sun article doesn't make crystal clear is addressed in the headline of the terse, three-paragraph account from the Los Angeles Times: Marine Sentries at Naval Academy Sent to Iraq...

It strikes me that this story carried such weight with me for two reasons. First, in the symbolism of its symbolism, it concerns me on a strategic ideological level. Why aren't conservatives more up in arms over this? This is exactly the kind of sentimental patriotic hoo-hah I've come to expect conservatives to conserve. Yet to scrape 48 more bodies up to toss into the body-chipper of Iraq, they're willing to scrap a century and half of tradition? Please tell me we aren't that desperate for military personnel. Please. Tell me that.

Secondly, I'm surely viewing this piece of news in light of all the other rapid undoing of the fabric of our democracy. Like most liberals, I'm not unaware of this country's often sordid past, from arming banana republic dictators to strong-arming on behalf of multi-national corporations to stealing the land of this continent's original inhabitants. Lip service is something we have perfected to an art. Still - and again, I suspect, like most liberals - I admit an allegiance to our professed beliefs as a nation in justice, equality and the dignity of the individual human life. And what this administration has created in me to a degree unparalleled in my lifetime is a great grief over the seemingly insurmountable chasm between our aspirations as a nation and our actions.

I want us to be as great and good in reality as we are in our professed ideals, and we need small reminders - like 150 years of guarding the crypt of John Paul Jones - to keep us grounded and seeing true. I'm coming to believe that if conservatives can't see this and refuse to conserve, it ironically may be up to progressives in the end to do so. I'm thinking here of a whole new category of political affiliation, of liberals who look to the future while holding on to the best of the past. Call it preservative progressivism or something like that. Whatever its categorization, I'm in it, and I'm now officially mourning the deployment of four dozen anonymous Marines, praying for their safety and hoping to see them back where they belong - at the gates of Annapolis and the crypt of John Paul Jones - carrying on a miniscule but important tradition.



Daily Kos: A Small American Tradition Bites the Dust

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