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January 2020

The Legacy of Arlington National Cemetery

in Contemporary Politics by

Each time my dad finds himself in Washington DC, he visits the Arlington National Cemetery. As a former special operations Army aviator, he conducted countless missions and was good friends with many of the Tier-1 operators buried in these hallowed grounds. To him, it is a deeply-personal trip; many of his friends killed-in-action left behind loving wives and kids. 

I recently got to join him for one such trip. As we walked through the sprawling 600+ acres to get to Section 60, where many of the post-9/11 casualties are laid to rest, I was awed by the sheer magnitude of the cemetery. Upon an expanse of rolling hills, over 400,000 pristine gravestones stand in neat, somber rows. The cemetery dates all the way back to the Civil War, when Union soldiers were first buried in what had previously been the grounds of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s estate. Since then, US soldiers from all American-fought wars, 2 US presidents and even 4000 former slaves have all been buried in the grounds of Arlington. 

One thing that struck me as I walked through Section 60 is the egalitarianism of the cemetery. Generals are buried alongside privates, who may also rest next to a medal of honor recipient. Each of these men and women have something in common; they were patriots who cared deeply about their country and performed their duties with honor and bravery. For this reason, each and every person laid to rest in the Arlington National Cemetery is honored with the same, utmost respect. Indeed, on Memorial Day of each year, the Old Guard places an American flag in front of each and every grave to honor America’s fallen. 

But there is one problem plaguing Arlington National Cemetery. It is running out of room. Currently, service members who die while on active duty, retired members of the Armed Forces, prisoners of war, and recipients of the military’s highest honors are all eligible to be buried in the Grounds. Each day, there are around 25 burials, equating to over 7,000 burials a year. At this rate, the cemetery can only stay open for another 25 years, due to space constraints. After all, Arlington National Cemetery is situated against a six-lane highway, and the remaining sides are blocked by developments. This is an issue for the government, which wants to keep Arlington going for at least another 150 years.

Arlington has already enacted multiple policies to save room. They encourage cremation as a space-efficient alternative to in-ground burial. And the old practice of burying family members side by side has been modified, so that caskets are now buried together vertically. But these practices can only achieve so much. The only feasible option to slow the in-stream of burials would be to tighten the rules for who can be buried here. It is a hard decision to make, as a careful balance must be maintained between the site’s egalitarian ideals and the harsh reality of a landlocked site. 

Still, the Army’s latest proposal dictates that only service members killed in action, or recipients of the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, may be allowed to be buried in Arlington. Notably, this would lead to fewer burials in a whole year than what currently occurs in a single week. While it may exclude thousands of currently eligible veterans, I believe this is the right choice to make. There are over a hundred military cemeteries in the US, although Arlington is by far the most prominent. By enacting stricter policy now, we can guarantee that the generation growing up today has the chance to be buried alongside some of the nation’s most prominent military leaders and patriots. 

Arlington National Cemetery serves as a powerful reminder that freedom and opportunity for all does not come easily, but instead requires great sacrifices by a long timeline of heroic men and women. To continue this cultural significance, it is imperative that generations for centuries to come may also have the privilege to rest in the historic grounds alongside Union soldiers, former presidents, and the heroes whose graves my dad frequents.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/us/arlington-cemetery-veterans.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

What Is A Presidential Election Without Drama?

in Contemporary Politics by

Drama around the 2020 Presidential Election has already begun almost a year in advance, but what more can be expected in this day and age. It seems that the true moderate is an extremely rare breed in today’s political climate. Extreme viewpoints are spread through social media and other press outlets, influencing average people’s opinions and views, making our country more divided than ever. The ability for Republicans and Democrats to compromise on today’s most outspoken issues and debated topics, like gun control, climate change, immigration issues, and taxes, is impossible in such a polar climate. This might be the reason that voter turnout in the United States is so low due to only the extreme viewpoints being placed on ballots.

With the announcement of Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy for 2020 presidential election, there is a chance that change could be created in our government, but only if he is elected. Bloomberg’s election in the real question because of his background. First, Bloomberg is a moderate candidate. He previously was the mayor of New York enlisted with the Republican Party, but he is now running as a conservative Democrat in the presidential election. Since Bloomberg is a moderate, he may not attract enough support and attention to gain the platform needed to be a serious competitor in the 2020 election. He could be overshadowed by other Democratic candidates with much more extreme opinions, but also he could reveal the unknown number of politically moderate people in American and gain massive amounts of support. Another question to be asked is if the Democrats are ready to elect a Wall Street billionaire. If they are, the competition between Trump for the Republicans and Bloomberg for the Democrats will surely unfold to be an interesting campaign period between two tycoons.

A Divided America

in Contemporary Politics by

Politics shouldn’t just be something that divides everyone into either right or left. When talking about politics with others, people automatically take sides with a mindset that one can only be either democratic or republican. Nowadays, many people don’t even think about what’s truly right or wrong or what values they hold true to themselves when it comes to politics. No matter what party one considers themselves a part of, everyone should remain open-minded and much aware of others’ perspectives.

Even in our current government, polarization is dividing our leaders. This negatively impacts the decisions our government makes and blurs its efficiency, which directly affects our nation’s success. As polarization is growing, we are allowing hatred to grow as well. When people take sides on politics with extremes on both the democratic and republican sides, tensions and conflicts between the parties tend to intensify. We see this through many elections, especially the 2016 presidential election, midterm elections, and the mayor/city council elections just recently. All over the internet, on television, and even on the streets, we see candidates from both political parties using rude and insulting ways to gain people’s votes. On TV and also on youtube, it’s quite rare to see ads positively promoting a candidate to gain people’s votes. Instead, the vast majority of them are all insulting to other candidates or political parties with hatred to show why people shouldn’t vote for an individual candidate without giving good reasons why citizens should vote for the particular candidate. Even though people do have very diverse opinions regarding politics, those clashing opinions should not negatively divide us.

At the end of the day, what matters in politics is what we, as US citizens, genuinely believe is right or wrong and what will be the most beneficial to our country in the long term. Now, many citizens believe that either one political party is entirely right, and the other political party is altogether wrong. Instead of analyzing and learning the facts about specific issues, many people automatically jump to the conclusion that one political party is right, while the other is wrong. This is facilitated by politically biased media platforms that many citizens naturally gravitate towards for news that may not be 100% genuine. With this mindset, people don’t know the facts about an issue. For example, if a politician is campaigning, but she/he may be giving false information, polarization leads people to disregard any of the incorrect information. The audience tends to assume that all the info is accurate solely because the politician is part of the political party they believe is the “right one.” 

As time goes by, this division is growing. This is a significant problem because this will not make our nation better. That’s precisely why we need to be more tolerant and aware of others’ opinions, take hatred off the scale, and decrease polarization, which can move our nation in a better direction.

Abortion: More than one reason – Fetal Analomy

in Contemporary Politics/Gender Issues/Healthcare by

Often when the word abortion is brought up, people generalize this issue to careless women/girls/teenagers who simply don’t want the responsibility of a child. However, this statement is only partly true. In reality, there  are many reasons for abortion such as economic instability, fetal abnormalities, rape, abusive relationships, danger to the mother (psychological or physical), and many more. 

Fetal anomaly, an issue that often leads to termination, is regularly overlooked by pro-life supporters. Opponents of abortion often combat fetal anomaly by responding with “disabled children can still lead a wonderful life.” And this is 100% true, but it’s not all about the child. This statement obscures that emotional hardships and anguish that a mother must go through when receiving a diagnosis of fetal anomaly in an otherwise wanted pregnancy. 

It’s no lie that disabled children are expensive, with regular doctor appointments, possible surgeries, and the special help/education they will need. Many mothers in this position choose to terminate due to their economic status, but there are other reasons than just money. If this mother already has children, there are even more lives to consider when making the choice to recieve an abortion. The effect of having a disabled child in the family can teach meaningful lessons such as responsibility, but it can also have negative repercussions. What if the non-disabled child requires more attention than can be provided by already busy and preoccupied parents? In the long run, children in these situations can ultimately be in a worse off place than before. 

Overall, the decision to terminate a pregnancy belongs to one person and one person only. The mother. As it is her body, she should have the right to do whatever she pleases/has to do. When the word abortion is mentioned, it is important to not immediately jump to the “careless woman” scenario, and instead recognize that you may have no idea what has happened or who is involved. 

https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/campaigns/briefings/fetal-anomaly/

https://savethestorks.com/2017/05/real-reasons-women-abortions/

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