The other day there was a report that former Senator Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran who briefly was Navy secretary during the Reagan Administration, might become President Trump's next secretary of defense.
Trump denied the report over the weekend, but reality with him changes every day, so that's not dispositive. But he may be right this time — I don't think it is going to happen.
Here's why. Yes, Webb's world view and values overlap neatly with Trump's base. He is at heart an Appalachian nationalist resistant to recent cultural changes.
But I've known Webb for decades, and there are two major differences that I think would outweigh that. First, he despises Ivy League elites who used their wealth and privilege to get out of serving in Vietnam, such as, for example, President Bone Spurs. He once told me has more respect for people who went to jail for their antiwar beliefs. (If you haven't read Webb's novel Fields of Fire, you should. You can see it tucked behind his hand in his official Navy secretary portrait, above. And yes, on the left side, over his shoulder, that's a portion of a North Vietnamese battle flag.)
A more contemporary difference is that Webb prides himself on telling the truth, while Trump seems to pride himself on changing his story as often as possible.
My two predictions are that Webb won't take the job, but that if he does, he won't last 12 months. I just have this image of him in the Oval Office, holding Trump in a headlock and giving him noogies.
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."