Flap at University of Washington over award to WW II hero

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Andrew Everett, a student senator and senior at the University of Washington, says he had little idea that introducing a resolution in support of building a campus memorial to Col. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, a 1934 graduate of the institution and a World War II Medal of Honor winner, would result in rampant partisan bickering on campus. But, thanks to words and actions by both liberals and conservatives on campus and elsewhere, the lens of politics has now framed a debate that he and others say could hamper his continuing efforts to honor alumni war heroes.

“I’m somewhat historically oriented,” says Everett, a former intelligence specialist in the military who forecasted weather reports in regions where U.S. forces were deployed. “I wanted to help us express our gratitude and appreciation.

But this month, Everett’s resolution was voted down 46-45 in the Student Senate. Some senators said they couldn’t support a memorial for one person when there were other distinguished war alumni who have graduated from the university. Others argued that the resolution shouldn’t be considered before items that had been on the docket longer had been voted on. And some flat out refused to support such a memorial because they oppose killing people, even in wartime.

What disappointed Everett was not the fact that the resolution failed — he figured he could create a new resolution that could garner a plurality. Rather, he says, the ensuing political debates that have occurred not only on campus, but in the blogosphere and on TV shows, like MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country,” have been most irksome.

“I don’t like that this has been framed in absolute terms,” says Everett. “I think it’s wrong that this turned into a political grab bag.”

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