I missed my 20 year high school class reunion down in Mississippi because I was with Nancy Pelosi at the World War II Memorial's grand opening. In those days I worked for the Speaker and one of the areas I managed for her was issues and outreach to our nation's military Veterans and families. We had worked long and hard planning receptions, securing tickets for Veterans and working with Veterans' Service Organizations to make sure the weekend was perfect.
Speaker Pelosi didn't know I was missing my high school reunion because I didn't tell her. She would have made me go and I knew my place was in Washington doing my job on such an important weekend.
What I remember about that weekend is something that happened after the robust ceremony and speeches, when the lights went off and the cameras departed. There were a couple of hours after the ceremony and prior to an American Legion reception we would be attending. Speaker Pelosi stopped at a flower vendor on a street corner, bought a bouquet of flowers and asked to be returned to the beautiful, new memorial.
With no fanfare, amidst the thousands of visitors, many World War II Veterans themselves, she walked silently and unnoticed about the memorial. Alone, she stood prayerfully near the center before laying the flowers down in honor of those around her and in loving memory of her uncle and the countless other American soldiers who gave their lives in that great cause.
That's the person Republicans feign to call unpatriotic.
That's the person, along with her daughter, who demanded that the Democratic National Committee create an official Veterans Caucus making sure their Party has a place to support and speak out for Veterans.
That's the person, when she became leader of her Caucus began regular, ongoing meetings with the nation's Veterans' groups; not for photographs and press conferences but to listen and hear their issues and needs. As Speaker, she continues to meet with Veterans.
That's the person who, as Speaker, made way for the new G.I. Bill of Rights and the largest, single increase in funding for Veterans in the history of our nation.
Unpatriotic? I don't think so.
The attempt to create drama and divert attention from the horrendous tasks of healing the ills of our great nation caused by the Bush Administration is shameful. It's unbecoming of leadership, statesmanship and about any other "ship" worth noting.
Former Senator Bob Graham, known for taking copious notes of every meeting he attends, and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has clearly pointed to errors in CIA records of who they briefed and when.
But, it's really not about that.
What about the fact that Republicans have apparently learned no lessons from Iraq and the "fact" of Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Well, it's really not about that, either.
The un-American practice of torture and waterboarding were carried out by a Republican administration. That's a fact. They didn't want people to know. That's a fact, too.
Still, Republicans would rather create diversions, attempt the ol' smoke and mirrors instead of owning up to a grotesque failure in leadership and joining with the nation in rectifying these failures and moving on.
We should all focus on how to move our nation beyond the issues plaguing us instead of focusing on self preservation, self promotion and self centered politics.
I'll always remember Speaker Pelosi at the World War II Memorial being an American citizen first and foremost. I'll take my stand with Speaker Pelosi, like I did that day, because she puts our national interest first.
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