Wrinkled flag on casket was shameful
Disgraceful. Shameful. Inexcusable. And that’s just for starters. George Herbert Walker Bush – 41st President of the United States, member of the Greatest Generation, World War II Navy pilot, and a family man of unquestioned decency – was just shown the ultimate disrespect by having his casket draped in an appallingly wrinkled American flag.
Don’t think it’s true? Look again.
Many missed the unseemly creases in the first photo, undoubtedly distracted by President Bush’s service dog lying in front of his casket. But as President Bush lay in state inside the Capitol, the wrinkles were clearly still there – evidence that either no one noticed, or, more alarming, cared enough to fix it.
How is this possible? When did Americans stop caring about such things? When did attention to detail become relegated to the trash can? When did we become so self-absorbed that we lack any shame for that which is downright shameful?
They say that every generation looks at the past through rosecolored glasses, convinced that “things used to be better.” That’s frequently inaccurate.
But when comparing the Greatest Generation – with their can-do work ethic, perseverance, and solve-rather-than-complain attitude – to today’s America, where many are offended by everything, entitled to even more, and take vanity to unprecedented heights, it ain’t even close.
President Bush deserved more. A lot more. Shame on us for not delivering.
There are those who will shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah. You’re right. They should have done it better. But (expletive) happens. And we have bigger problems.” Wrong answer. In fact, that attitude is one of the underlying reasons for the decline of America’s traditional value system. At its core, it is a mentality built on excuses and “buts:” “Yes, we should have done it better, but …” Or “Mistakes were made, but …” And the new favorite: “I’m sorry, but …”
Everything these days is “conditional,” which is a fancy way of saying that passing the buck is the new norm. True remorse is scant, and it has become chic to not hold people accountable for their actions. After all, it’s much easier to blame everyone and everything else.
Do poorly in school? It’s the teacher’s fault. Subpar in a game? Blame the refs. Late for work? Hey, six-hour days are brutal. A celebrity genuinely offends? It’s not “I’m sorry,” but a conditional, publicist-worded non-apology. The “sorry if someone was offended” line now routinely supplants an actual apology.
We’d be a lot better off if our love affair with the mirror wasn’t for vanity, but instead self-reflection as to who we are, and the type of people we aspire to be.
When we continue to give free passes for errors of both commission and omission, the result is widespread mediocrity, and a “normalcy bias” for constant mistakes. From fast food to health insurers to cable TV companies, mistakes are so commonplace that they’ve become the new norm – forcing customers to pick up the slack.
There is simply no excuse for a president to be draped in a wrinkled flag. He is surrounded by family, staff, Secret Service, military officials and protocol experts. Is it really possible that not one person noticed the flag looking as though it had been rolled into a ball? And that no one either made sure it got ironed, or a pressed flag be found? The lack of situational awareness, not to mention common sense, is baffling.
George Bush, as a lieutenant, was required to have a pressed uniform. His bunk was undoubtedly mandated to be wrinklefree. As businessman, congressman, CIA director, and president, Mr. Bush’s attire was expected to be, and always was, crisp and presentable – just the way it should be.
Incompetence occurs at the very highest levels, and it’s only getting worse. It’s also clear that in today’s America, people value Uber, what type of latte they’ll order, and how many shows they can watch simultaneously over the things that truly matter.
Too bad they don’t realize that the very reason they have those choices is because the Greatest Generation fought with uncommon valor against the most dire threat to freedom the world had ever known.
Flag or no flag, that will be a legacy that will never be wrinkled.
President Bush, you deserved more, and you have our gratitude.
Requiescat in pace.