Marilyn M. Barnewall
May 31, 2010
Barack Obama went to Europe just before Memorial Day last year and apologized for America being American – and upset a lot of Americans.
He is very young and very inexperienced politically and professionally. He doesn’t seem to this old woman to be very wise… or even very aware of which citizens from which nation provided him the power he now wields so carelessly around the world – and in the Gulf of Mexico.
I wrote an article for my European friends last Memorial Day when Obama apologized for his country. At the time, I wanted to clarify how Americans feel about our nation – since the man elected to the Presidency seemed unable. Last year, the guy had only been in office a few months before making such a fool of himself. This year, no such excuse exists. He continues in foolish, unpatriotic profligacy.
Many people in this Great Nation have learned during the past 17 months that being elected to the Presidency does not make a man a Patriot. A man, bearing the official title of President of the United States, who on foreign shores, apologizes for American arrogance is – I hate to say it – arrogant.
Americans finally began waking up last year and realized they had become spoiled. It's true. It's hard not to get spoiled when you live in this beautiful, productive country. It takes discipline. Many people didn't (and still do not) have it. Too many citizens had become apathetic and government dependent – too many still are. But a 1942 prediction by a famous Japanese Admiral should be taken to heart by those who think their power absolves them from the futures they have yet to live.
On January 9, 1942, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (whose idea it was to attack Pearl Harbor) wrote a reply to a letter from Hiroyuki Agawa (see The Reluctant Admiral). In the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! Hollywood reduced Yamamoto's comment after Pearl Harbor to: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." In reality, here is what Yamamoto said: "A military man can scarcely pride himself on having 'smitten a sleeping enemy'; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack."
The Tea Party and other anti-socialism groups were motivated into being partly because of Barack Obama's European apology for American arrogance last year. Other poor judgments by this man have resulted in the waking of Yamamoto’s "sleeping giant" and it is learning how to do more than just protest. The giant is educating and involving itself in local and state politics. Thus, to some degree, we see the return of an energized America to the status of Republic and the rejection of socialized Democracy.
Last year, my article said: "You have my apologies for the behavior of the man who calls himself this nation’s President. On any given day, more Americans oppose his condescending behavior than approve it. He and his wife may not be proud of America. We, the people, are.
"Memorial Day is special to us. This day, Americans honor heroes who died in our nation’s service – and I hope our European friends honor them, too. So many American men died in service on European soil."
This year, because of the Obama European apology a year ago, I say “thank you.” That apology was the beginning of a series of world gaffs that motivated Tea Party and other groups to say "Enough!" I encourage those from other nations to understand the difference in the attitudes of the American people and the historic arrogance of so many of our political Administrations.
On Monday, May 31, 2010, we Americans celebrate the lives – not the deaths – of our heroes. If you wonder why our stock market and banks and postal services are not working today, here's why:
On May 5, 1868, General John Logan (as in Denver’s Fort Logan where my Dad served in WWII) proclaimed the existence of Memorial Day in General Order No. 11.
Graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery were first decorated on May 30, 1868.
Southern women decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers even before the War Between the States ended in 1865.
In 1873, the state of New York first officially recognized this holiday. By 1890, all Northern states recognized Memorial Day. The South honored their dead on different dates until after World War I.
It was then Memorial Day was changed to honor all soldiers who died in service to our country rather than those who died just during the War Between the States… or, as some call it, the Civil War.
Because of all the above, I found last year’s Barack Obama apologies to European nations for American arrogance to be particularly offensive. Arrogant men do not tread the shores of foreign nations and die for a cause called “freedom.” Arrogant men do, however, minimize such efforts… and even apologize for them. Perhaps men who have not served their nation via military service do not understand such things. Being a military man is quite different than being a community organizer, I guess.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that be true, then I offer the following 20,000 words to explain why no apology from Americans to Europeans is necessary.
Article continues after the pictures.
1 The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France; 2,289 American soldiers buried here
2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium; 5,329 American soldiers buried here
3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France; 4,410 American soldiers buried here
4. Brookwood, England American Cemetery; 468 Americans soldiers buried here
5. Cambridge, England; 3,812 American soldiers buried here
6. Epinal, France American Cemetery; 5,525 American soldiers buried here
7. Flanders Field, Belgium; 368 American soldiers buried here
8. Florence, Italy; 4,402 American soldiers buried here
9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium; 7,992 American soldiers buried here
10. Lorraine, France; 10,489 American soldiers buried here
11. Luxembourg, Luxembourg; 5,076 American soldiers buried here
12. Meuse-Argonne; 14,246 American soldier buried here
13. Netherlands, Netherlands; 8,301 Americans buried here
14. Normandy, France; 9,387 American soldiers buried here
15. Oise-Aisne, France; 6,012 American soldiers buried here
16. Rhone, France; 861 American soldiers buried here
17. Sicily, Italy; 7,861 American soldiers buried here
18. Somme, France; 1,844 American soldiers buried here
19. St. Mihiel, France; 4,153 American soldiers buried here
20. Suresnes, France; 1,541 American soldiers buried here
This is a partial count of those American soldiers buried at these European cemeteries – and there are others – and it totals 104,366. Add to that Arlington and all of the other veterans’ cemeteries around America and Europe where our WWII (and WWI and other) veterans are buried. It is not only sad that the man elected to be President of this Great Nation needs a few days in Chicago more than he needs to honor the heroes who made it possible for him to serve in that office. It is a disgrace.
Are Americans arrogant? Or is the man elected to serve as President arrogant? Or, do Americans just exude the self confidence that accompanies free people? How do you define arrogance? I define it as an attitude reflecting a lack of considered value towards a person – or a nation – that has given you much. I also define it as unearned and undeserved self pride.
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It's a little like accepting a Nobel Prize you haven’t earned. The attitude can be caused by envy or jealousy – or some other form of basic insecurity. One thing I know that arrogance is NOT: The willingness to die for freedom – America's or that of other people. The willingness to pay taxes for years to rebuild a far away, war-torn continent isn't arrogant (or greedy), either.
It is called patriotism -- that feeling deep in the breast that makes us say so proudly: "I'm an American!"
Admiral Yamamoto, a brilliant man, understood it too late. World's leaders, including America's own, need to remember that.
� 2010 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved
Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking, the first book written about private banks, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association and trained private bankers in Singapore in 1991. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and one work of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.
Barnewall received her degree in Banking from the University of Colorado Graduate School of Business in 1978 and was named one of America's top 100 businesswomen. She was a founding member of the Committee of 200, the official organization of America's top businesswomen. She can be found in Who's:Who in America (2005-08), Who's Who of American Women (2006-08), Who's Who in Finance and Business (2006-08), and Who's Who in the World (2008).