- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Wreaths for all

In addition to the wreath he laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns on Memorial Day, President Bush has once again sent a wreath to the hallowed grounds of the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery.

Earlier this year, Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat — after reading a misleading article in Time magazine — took to the Senate floor to criticize the administration for having reinstituted wreath layings at the Confederate Monument, after the practice purportedly was dropped by his father in 1990.

Mr. Reid said placing such a wreath at the monument was “racially motivated.”

But it turned out wreaths had been placed at the Confederate Monument for years.

President George Bush did change the date of the wreath laying from Jefferson Davis’ birthday June 3 (recognized as Confederate Memorial Day) to the national Memorial Day celebration.

The Clinton administration and the current Bush administration have continued the practice.

Time later issued a correction. And when it was his turn, Mr. Reid apologized for repeating the inaccuracy, but not for his sentiment. The senator said Mr. Bush should discontinue the wreath-laying tradition, “regardless of the past history of the practice.”

In addition to the Confederate Monument and Tomb of the Unknowns, the White House Military Office placed wreaths on behalf of the president at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Civil War, placed atop 2,111 anonymous Civil War dead buried at Arlington; on the mast of the USS Maine; and at the Spanish-American War Memorial.

Celebrating heritage

While we’re visiting the Confederate Monument, the Confederate Memorial Committee (CMC) of the District of Columbia will hold its Confederate Heritage Celebration at the Arlington National Cemetery site this Sunday at 3 p.m.

Before Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, cries foul, we’re advised that the ceremony — also commemorating Jefferson Davis’ birthday — has been held annually since 1914, when the Confederate Monument was given as a “gift to the nation” by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

“Our objective is to honor the memory of our soldiers who fought for the Confederacy as well as to celebrate our Confederate heritage,” says CMC Chairman Vicki Heilig, who is encouraging participants to carry Confederate flags to the celebration, “where we will wave them proudly.”

New this year, besides so many flags, will be the singing of five verses of “Dixie,” helped along by a pipe and drum band, brass instruments and eight-member color guard with all the Confederate colors.

“If you cannot hold up while singing five verses of ‘Dixie,’ then take a few seconds to listen to the strains of this Confederate anthem as it floats across the countryside once belonging to Robert E. Lee,” Miss Heilig says, not forgetting the fact that Union troops evicted the Lees from their property while burying war dead on their front lawn.

Radical after all

The Dixie Chicks will be interested to learn that Live Aid founder Bob Geldof “shocked” the international aid community, as Reuters wrote yesterday, by praising President Bush as one of Africa’s best friends in the fight against AIDS and famine.

“You’ll think I’m off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical — in a positive sense — in the approach to Africa since Kennedy,” Mr. Geldof said during a visit to famine-ravaged Ethiopia.

The Irish musician and activist said Mr. Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, might have talked passionately about Africa, but he did very little to help the continent.

Fighting words

His wife gone from the White House, Democratic strategist James Carville is calling the “Bush crew” that remains a bunch of liars.

“Worst of all, they lie,” Mr. Carville writes to this column on Democratic National Committee letterhead (they’ve been trying for three years to get us to join the party).

“These people are playing for keeps,” says Bill Clinton’s former adviser, “and if we give this Bush crew four more years in the White House to do their dirty work, we won’t recognize the America they’ve created.

“Let’s stick it to these guys,” he says.

Cheers for Chao

By golly, we come across a new government program that seems to be working: locating jobs for disabled college students and recent graduates in the federal work force.

Announced only last month by Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, we’re told that the department’s work-force recruitment program already has placed more than 260 college students and recent grads with disabilities into summer or permanent jobs all over the country.

• John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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