Sunday, June 09, 2002

Ready & willing

WWII veteran reminds us of the right thing to do

        Right after President Bush called on America to “lead the civilized world in a titanic struggle against terror,” one of the talking heads on Fox News asked the question that was on everyone's mind:

        What about hurricanes and boll weevils, she wanted to know. If a fleet of government agencies is melted down to build an anti-terror battleship, who will inspect bananas to keep out foreign spiders?

        I decided to do what President Bush should do: Turn off the talking heads and listen to normal, ordinary people whose minds have not been warped by immersion in the corrosive stupidity of Washington.

Still don't get it

        “This is complicated,” said the boll-weevil woman.

        Meaning Washington will make it complicated.

        Congress can't decide which of more than 20 committees should be asked to combine Customs, Immigration, the Coast Guard and other agencies into a new cabinet department of homeland security.

        The undersecretary assistant supervisor of corn inspections will sugar the president's gas tank to defend his acre of linoleum-tiled turf.

        Democrats who demanded consolidation will now find ways to short out the plan until they can wire the spending juice to their own districts.

        Republicans will flutter around like moths at a light show, trying to decide if expanding big government is a bigger threat than, say, a nuclear explosion in Chicago.

        Liberals with firearms phobia will continue to ignore the pleas of airline pilots who want to arm themselves against terrorists.

        Grandmothers, toddlers and U.S. servicemen in uniform will still be searched at airports to avoid the politically incorrect felony of “profiling” — although the terrorists were all Middle Eastern men.

        As Mr. Bush explained Thursday night, “Nearly nine months have passed since that day that forever changed our country. . . . And as children finish school and families prepare for family vacations — for many — life seems almost normal.”

        “Thousands of trained killers are plotting to attack us. And this terrible knowledge requires us to act differently.”

        Some people still don't get it. Even after thousands of lives went up in an evil billow of black smoke, as if hell had sprung a leak in Manhattan — even after that, some still refuse to face reality.

Some patriotism

        But at the same time Mr. Bush was speaking, a crowd at the Taylor High School graduation showed that most ordinary Americans are ready and willing to stand up for their country.

        The program had no national anthem or acknowledgement of the flag until a man in the audience interrupted the principal's speech. “All of a sudden, this older gent stands up and says, "Hey, what about some patriotism?' ” said Donald C. Lehmkuhl, who was there to see his granddaughter graduate.

        “The principal tried to brush it off, but this guy wouldn't shut up. And then all of a sudden, everybody stood up — and I mean everybody — and said the Pledge of Allegiance.”

        The “older gent” identified himself as a World War II veteran. Thursday was also the anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

        Mr. Lehmkuhl, a Navy veteran of the Korean War era, said, “I felt proud. This guy was right, and this was the right thing to do.”

        It only takes one person with courage to remind Americans of the right thing to do. And we will do it.

        E-mail or call 768-8301.


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