I have a strong recollection of Ronald Reagan’s visit to the Kolmeshöhe German military cemetery in Bitburg. The presence of 49 Waffen-SS graves near where the wreath-laying ceremony was to take place was not seen as sufficient reason to cancel the ceremony or ask that it be moved to another site. From Wikipedia:
This planned visit caused a great deal of anger outside of Germany. Many prominent government officials, U.S. Army officers, and celebrities, protested the planned visit. Concentration camp survivor and author Elie Wiesel spoke out on the topic at an unrelated White House ceremony, saying, “I… implore you to do something else, to find another way, another site. That place, Mr. President, is not your place.” 53 senators (including 11 Republicans), signed a letter asking the president to cancel, and 257 representatives (including 84 Republicans) signed a letter urging Chancellor Kohl to withdraw the invitation. Former Army S/Sgt. Jim Hively mailed his World War II decorations, including a Silver Star and a Bronze Star Medal, to Reagan in protest.
At the sight of an American president laying a wreath at a cemetery in honor of enemy dead –especially those enemy dead– it was as if you could hear the reality of half the country snap. Neck-deep in the punk rock scene I was no stranger to topical music, but it came out of left field that The Ramones –a notably apolitical punk act– would be the band to step up and scream “NO!”
The song begins with the sound of a train –the Third Reich’s iconic mode of transport to the camps– itself a scathing indictment; a finger of shame. The song drives as Ramones songs do (Tommy Ramone as usual a f••king champ on the skins), but the lyrics are a crystalline representation of that collective mental snap.
Bonzo goes to Bitburg then goes out for a cup of tea
as I watched it on TV somehow it really bothered me
drank in all the bars in town for an extended foreign policy
pick up the pieces