Note: this article has been edited to reflect that Americans for Prosperity is not a PAC.
Honoring the dead has been a part of life for as long as we have been shuffling off of this mortal coil. But the national holiday to commemorate those who have fallen in the service of defending our country has been around for a relative blink of an eye – Memorial Day has only been around since 1971.
Of course, Americans have been honoring departed military heroes since the Revolutionary War – you don’t need official sanction to pay respect. And, as befits our status as the Cradle of Liberty, it was a fallen Philadelphia nurse, Martha Kimball, who made the suggestion in 1867 to General John A. Logan, who helped found the Grand Army of the Republic in the wake of the Civil War – and who commanded that precursor to the US Army – that spurred Logan to create Decoration Day, the forerunner of Memorial Day, the following year.
Since then, it has been established tradition for the president to share words of comfort and resilience with a grateful nation, although few have ever been more direct than General George S. Patton, who famously declared that “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.”
Perhaps no American president captured the spirit of how we the living should honor those who gave their lives for our continuing freedoms than Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president. In his 1891 Memorial Day address, he said: “I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.”
Joe Scarnati: The President Pro Tempore of the state Senate led the way forward on one of the issues that made this month’s primary such a flashpoint for political observers and participants by announcing that he would introduce legislation to make future primaries open to all voters, not just registered Republicans and Democrats.
Josh Shapiro: The state AG convinced the bishops from the Catholic dioceses of Greensburg and Harrisburg to agree to make public the findings of a grand jury report into alleged sexual abuse in those dioceses and four others.
Hot dog sandwich truthers: Those continuing to espouse the controversial belief that a wiener should be mentioned alongside ham-and-cheese, peanut-butter-and-jelly and other examples of the genre gained a powerful ally when Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted that frankfurters are his “favorite sandwich.”
MontCo party faithful: Between candidate for the GOP county chair Tom Ellis imploding over past allegations of sexual harassment and abuse allegations and ousted state Democratic chair Marcel Groen broadly hinting he would run for the party’s county chair – despite being booted from the state post for his failure to address #MeToo issues – county Republicans and Democrats had plenty in common to commiserate about this week.
Lou Barletta: That was a short honeymoon for the GOP nominee for US Senate. Barely a week after winning his party nod to take on incumbent US Sen. Bob Casey, Barletta found himself the target of a well-funded campaign by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. The group is going after him as payback for his support of the recent $1.3 trillion congressional spending bill.
Pennsylvania women: As part of the Trump administration’s continuing attack on, well, everything in pursuit of continually shoring up his base, the decision to enforce a Reagan-era rule on denying funding to health care providers offering abortions could deprive the Planned Parenthoods that provide medical services to low-income Pennsylvania women of $3 million in funds.