Participating in such an event has a strong sociopolitical component. By taking the time to attend, one impresses upon other community members 'the type of person one is.' A high proportion of politically active people show up; a subliminal aspect of political participation, within a McCarthyite social order, revolves around asserting one's own patriotism as contrasted with the ostensible lazy free-riderism prevailing across the aisle.
The overwhelming signaling component, at the Memorial Day commemoration, can easily eclipse the event's purported purpose--paying tribute to exceptionally honorable individuals.
This year's Memorial Day ceremony will pay tribute to Bill Schiebler--a person who has published several astoundingly bizarre stories concerning his service in Vietnam. The stories all have one unchanging leitmotif: Bill Schiebler is an unusually selfless, loving, heroic, anti-racist human.
I have emailed Eden Prairie Veterans, asking if they have verified any of Schiebler's numerous odd stories. I am being stonewalled. Valuing honor means knowing your place; the Eden Prairie Veterans won't countenance any questioning.
Some years ago--having spoken not a word about it in three decades and with the American rescuee comfortably in the grave--Schiebler began remembering his heroic rescue of Paul Mobley and an enemy soldier. Schiebler narrated his act of heroism very differently three years later.
Schiebler suffers from Multiple Sclerosis--a horrible illness with which I have considerable second-hand familiarity. People ravaged by MS are treated badly by the general public, who often (stupidly) find handicapped people's presence nervous-making and unpleasant. To assuage their guilt, people often feel the need to compensate--particularly when under any media glare--and thank handicapped people for their various splendors, even when non-existent. Perhaps such a meme is active in the present case.
Without verifying any of the facts, in 2003 Gov. Tim Pawlenty presented Schiebler with a Bronze Star, accompanied by false-sounding words about 'lost paperwork.'
When claims such as these come forward, there's simply no incentive for any American to question them. The Bronze Star has been awarded to so many people that no one maintains any easily-accessible list of recipients. Give the disabled man his Bronze Star, damn it.
Schiebler is a liar and a fraud, but he's published so many bullshitty stories I've only got time to verify one.
It's a pity the Eden Prairie Veterans don't care whether the person they honor is a scoundrel. I sent the following email to the National Archives - Military Personnel Records today:
On this coming Memorial Day (May 28, 2012), my community will honor Vietnam Veteran Bill Schiebler.
Schiebler has published an interview in which he describes a number of events which sound unbelievable to me. So I'm emailing you today just to verify one of his many stories.
Schiebler claims that after arriving in Vietnam in 1965, one of the 45 men who served under him--a Puerto Rican soldier named Rodriguez--shot dead four African American soldiers (who'd also reported to Schiebler). In addition, Schiebler claims that during the tragedy, 7 or 8 others were seriously wounded.
Schiebler claims he personally disarmed the insane murderer--and that Rodriguez was then arrested and punished for the crime.
You can easily confirm my description yourself--just click on the second link, above. You'll be required to create a login at prx.org--it's easy.
Is this story true? There cannot have been too many American-on-American quadruple homicides during our intervention in Vietnam, right? Surely checking this claim should be extremely easy for you, right?
Very best wishes,
Eden Prairie, Minnesota