Tuesday, December 05, 2006
One Man's Tribute to Dead Soldiers * The First Daughters
20 days before Christmas. If reports are correct, cash registers are humming below the level for businesses to feel happy. Is that bad news? The pundits talk of good and bad economic indicators. People need jobs, and jobs depend on good economy. So, may the ringing of cash registers increase -- it usually does as the day comes close. On the 23rd and 24th there is pandemonium in the shopping centers. Even now parking spots are hard to find in local malls. The Silicon Valley, of course, cannot be taken as a sample of what is happening elsewhere in the country.
'Rest easy, sleep well my brothers. Know the line has held, your job is done.'
By Marc Fisher
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Every year for more than a decade, at the height of the season, Morrill Worcester would pack up a truckload of his Christmas wreaths and head down from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. Without fanfare, he and a dozen or so volunteers would lay red-bowed wreaths on a few thousand headstones of fallen Americans.
There was no publicity. No crowds gathered. The gesture was one man's private duty, born of a trip to Washington he won as a 12-year-old paperboy. Of all the monuments and memorials he saw, it was the visit to Arlington that stuck with him -- the majesty and mystery, the sadness and the pride, the sight of all those neat rows of government-issue white headstones.
Years later, after he had started his Christmas products business, at the crunch point of one season Worcester asked some men who were building his new factory to find some wreaths and buy them for him.
They went a bit overboard: When Worcester heard that he was the proud owner of 4,000 wreaths that couldn't possibly be sold by Christmas, he called a friend who owned a trucking company, contacted his senator in Washington and, two weeks before Christmas 1992, was at Arlington, laying wreaths.
It seemed like the right thing to do. So he continued the ritual each year, honoring those who had died so that he and other Americans might live as theyvery year for more than a decade, at the height of the season, Morrill Worcester would pack up a truckload of his Christmas wreaths and head down from Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. Without fanfare, he and a dozen or so volunteers would lay red-bowed wreaths on a few thousand headstones of fallen Americans.
It seemed like the right thing to do. So he continued the ritual each year, honoring those who had died so that he and other Americans might live as they saw fit.
The First Daughters
Michael Kinsley's Sins of the Fathers in the Post pointed a spotlight on a subject that has been avoided by the media. "It is not the fault of Jenna or Barbara Bush that their father, the president, has gotten us into a war that he doesn't know how to get us out of. And, although you can blame parents for almost anything, George W. and Laura Bush are no longer responsible for the behavior of their twin daughters, who are in their mid-20s. Presidents, like the rest of us, don't get to choose their relatives. Remember Billy Carter?"
As for the twins, we actually know next to nothing about them. George and Laura Bush made the wise decision to keep them out of the limelight, and -- with surprisingly little slippage -- they have managed to enforce this policy on the press, on the Republican propaganda machine and on the girls themselves. Good for them.
From what little has leaked out, it seems that Jenna and Barbara are party girls who like to drink and dance until the wee hours with aristocrats and frat boys. Jenna is interning for UNICEF in Latin America (not actually teaching kids, as originally reported, but involved somehow in education). The twins recently took a trip to Argentina. Their first night there, partying in Buenos Aires, Barbara lost her purse to a thief.
So it would appear that George W. Bush's daughters are not Amy Carter or Chelsea Clinton or Karenna Gore. So what? Are you surprised?
Nevertheless, there is a war on. It's a war that has killed 3,000 Americans, most of them around Jenna and Barbara's age or younger. It has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis of all ages. And even more Americans and Iraqis have been injured, lost limbs, suffered terrible pain. President Bush can be quite eloquent in talking about the sacrifices of American soldiers and -- he always adds -- their families. In the Reagan style that has become almost mandatory, he uses anecdotes. He talks of Marine 2nd Lt. Frederick Pokorney Jr. "His wife, Carolyn, received a folded flag. His two-year-old daughter, Taylor, knelt beside her mother at the casket to say a final goodbye."
Bush says truly, about the American dead, "They did not yearn to be heroes. They yearned to see mom and dad again and to hold their sweethearts and to watch their sons and daughters grow. They wanted the daily miracle of freedom in America, yet they gave all that up and gave life itself for the sake of others."
Living your life according to your own values is a challenge for everyone, and it must be a special challenge if you happen to be the president. No one thinks that the president should have to give up a child to prove that his family is as serious about freedom as these other families he praises. But it would be reassuring to see a little struggle here -- some sign that the Bush family truly believes that American soldiers are dying for our freedom, and that it's worth it.
Who knows? Maybe they have had huge arguments about this. Maybe George and Laura wanted the girls to join the Red Cross, or the Peace Corps, or do something that would at least take them off the party circuit for a couple of years. And perhaps the girls said no. But I doubt this scenario, don't you?
War hath no fury like a noncombatant