- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2011


Honoring service and sacrifice, freedom and liberty, the living and the dead. Those are the cornerstones of Memorial Day.

Yet, on this day when we pay homage to Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice, some Americans consider dancing on their graves as a fitting tribute.

How else to view what happened in the U.S. House of Representatives as Memorial Day approached? Last week, as members of Congress wrapped up plans to return to their home districts for the holiday, the House approved legislation that could unravel plans of the Defense Department as recommended by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005.

But on Wednesday, the House took several steps backward, caving into to pressure from Republicans and Democrats who are wailing about traffic nightmares.

BRAC critics, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, and Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, have been keenly aware that potential traffic problems would arise on already-choked major highways.

Indeed, Mr. Moran, who represents many people in Northern Virginia affected by the planned moves of military personnel, voted against the initial BRAC bill way back when, and he remains obstinate.

But let’s be real. In more ways than one, Mr. Moran and his House colleagues are dishonoring the very people who served in our military and made considerable sacrifices on behalf of all Americans.

The cost-saving plan crafted by the BRAC panel called for consolidating the federal workforce in secured facilities by closing or realigning military installations by Sept. 15, 2011.

Locally, the plan includes moving roughly 6,400 federal employees to the Mark Center at Interstate 395 and Seminary Road in Alexandria and thousands of others to Fort Belvoir off Route 1 in Fairfax County.

Also, workers and patients from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District are scheduled to move to the National Naval Medical Center on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda.

Our armed forces werent created to benefit a particular state or community but a particular constituency - all Americans - and it falls to the military and civilian members of the Defense Department to do what’s right to continue to defend, protect and preserve this republic.

Like many of you, I have relatives, friends and coworkers who served in the military, including my Aunt Myrtis, an Army vet, and my late father, who served in the Philippines during World War II and for nearly 30 years with the Department of the Army at the old Cameron Station in Alexandria.

Were he still alive, he would have been one of the people facing a potential traffic nightmare with the BRAC move.

But know what? While Daddy raised Cain every week about his commute, he would have disapproved of playing politics with our armed forces.

“Serve and serve proudly,” he used to say.

And so, to my dad, and my aunt and all the others in my family and yours who served their country in our armed forces, thank you for serving and serving proudly.

And as we will hear today at Memorial Day events across the United States, God bless America.

c Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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