A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Proud to Be an American? I sure am!

The following is from an e-mail on the President's visit to Iraq. This
is an "in the building" version of the moment from a young Army

We knew there was a dinner planned with Ambassador Bremer and LTG
Sanchez. There were 600 seats available and all the units in the
division were tasked with filling a few tables. Naturally, the 501st MI
battalion got our table.

Soldiers were grumbling about having to sit through another
dog-and-pony show, so we had to pick soldiers to attend. I chose not to
go. But, about 1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile,
asked me to come to dinner with him, to meet him in his office at 1600
and bring a camera. I didn't really care about getting a picture with
Sanchez or Bremer, but when the division's senior intelligence officer
asks you to go, you go.

We were seated in the chow hall, fully decorated for Thanksgiving when
aaaaallllll kinds of secret service guys showed up. That was my first
clue, because Bremer's been here before and his personal security
detachment is not that big.

Then BG Dempsey got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and
LTG Sanchez. Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as
if to give a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this
thanksgiving speech to give to the troops. He then paused and said that
the senior man present should be the one to give it. He then looked at
Sanchez, who just smiled. Bremer then said that we should probably get
someone more senior to read the speech.

Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United
States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering.
Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began
cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was
just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but
also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he
stood, less than thirty feet away from me! The cheering went on and on
and on. Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were
crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the
cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks. It was the
most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my wedding and Aaron
being born.

Here was this man, our President, came all the way around the world,
spending 17 hours on an airplane and landing in the most dangerous
airport in the world, where a plane was shot out of the sky not six
days before. Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a
plane and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment,
and I will never forget it.

He delivered his speech, which we all loved, when he looked right at me
and held his eyes on me. Then he stepped down and was just mobbed by
the soldiers. He slowly worked his way all the way around the chow hall
and shook every last hand extended. Every soldier who wanted a photo
with the President got one. I made my way through the line, got dinner,
then wolfed it down as he was still working the room. You could tell he
was really enjoying himself. It wasn't just a photo opportunity. This
man was actually enjoying himself! He worked his way over the course of
about 90 minutes towards my side of the room.

Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to shake a few hands. I got a picture
with Ambassador Bremer, Talabani (acting Iraqi president) and Achmed
Chalabi (another member of the ruling council) and Condaleeza Rice, who
was there with him. I felt like I was drunk.

He was getting closer to my table so I went back over to my seat. As he
passed and posed for photos, he looked me in the eye and said, "How you

I smiled and said "God bless you, sir."

To which he responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then moved
--From PCA News
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