Every President establishes priorities. He decides which issues and constituent groups and agendas are important to him, and which are not. Sometimes, he communicates his decisions through speeches. Sometimes through his policies. And sometimes through his attention. The negatives in this process are as important to watch as the positives, although the negatives often get overlooked.
On inauguration night, President Obama clearly communicated a negative priority.
The night of the inauguration of a new President is a busy one for Washington. There are balls hosted by branches of the victorious political party, by Hollywood, and by special interest groups of every ilk.
One such ball is the Salute to Heroes Inaugural Ball. It was begun in 1953 for President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration. The ball recognizes recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. Recipients and their families are invited to meet the President and receive his thanks for their sacrifice. In many cases, only the families are present, since Medals of Honor are often awarded posthumously.
The Ball has been held at every inauguration since its inception 56 years ago, and every single President has attended, from Eisenhower to Kennedy to Johnson through Clinton and Bush. Every single one of them believed that honoring those who had earned this award, often at the cost of their own lives, in protecting America and her freedom was a top priority.
Until this year. This year, for the first time, a United States President, who carries the title of Commander-in-Chief of America’s military, decided that honoring those who served and sacrificed in that military was NOT a priority.
The 48 Medal of Honor winners and their families who were in attendance were not visited by this President. They waited in vain while Mr. Obama visited the Hollywood-sponsored events, sending a clear message that those who pretend to be heroes on the cinematic screen are more important to this administration than those men and women who actually are the heroes of America.
It is important to understand that this was not just an accidental oversight on the part of the President. Presidential schedules are meticulously planned and coordinated. Every stop along the route the President took on inauguration night was carefully mapped and protected. The lack of attendance was decided upon – in advance.
But not only did this President decide that our Medal of Honor winners were not important enough on his priority list to merit even a courtesy stop, they were not important enough to be notified in advance of his decision. So our nation’s greatest heroes were completely ignored by their final commander.
Yet this is the man who has the power to send those currently wearing the uniform into harm’s way. It should be of the gravest concern that he has demonstrated that he has no regard whatsoever for the lives and sacrifices of those who have volunteered to keep America safe and free.
Those men and women are protecting us on the front lines of battlefields. They need, and deserve, us to protect them on the home front of political priorities. This President needs to hear, loudly and clearly, that although he does not regard the sacrifices of our military heroes as worthy of notice and thanks – we do.
Our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers, are counting on us. They have never let us down. Let us now return that favor.