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FROM THIS EPISODE

Memorial Day originated after the Civil War, but a somber remembrance of fallen soldiers has also become a cheerful greeting of summer. How well does America honor those who've died for their country? We look at Memorial Day: the history and practice. Also,the US Senate last week voted to update the GI Bill with new benefits for veterans, but John McCain had another idea.


Banner image: Civil War artillery, Arlington National Cemetery

Producers:
Frances Anderton
Karen Radziner

Main Topic Origins of Memorial Day; Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers

Memorial Day began after the Civil War, which killed 600,000 Americans, North and South. But the first day of remembrance wasn't really about them.  It was started by southern women, mourning what they called the Lost Cause: the Confederacy. When the northern states got into the act, it was all about commemorating the soldiers who died for the Union. We bring the history up to the present holiday—which is also about barbeques, three-day weekends and the beginning of summer. Does America do a good job of remembering war dead? What about grieving families and living veterans?

Guests:
Caroline Janney, Professor of History, Purdue University
Jim Sheeler, Reporter, Rocky Mountain News
Michael Sledge, freelance writer
Nadia McCaffrey, Gold Star Mother
Alex Horton, Senior Advisor, VoteVets.org

Reporter's Notebook Does McCain Have a Vets Problem?

On Thursday, the Senate updated the GI Bill, with $2 billion in new education benefits for veterans. John McCain, who comes from a military family and is considered a war hero by political friend and foe, opposed the measure as being too expensive. He offered a different version, which precipitated a nasty exchange between him and Barack Obama. Friday, the bill sponsored by Vietnam vets Jim Webb (D-VA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) passed with Obama's support. Gordon Lubold is Pentagon correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.

Guests:
Gordon Lubold, Reporter, Politico

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