Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Fellowship of Freedom

The most interesting moment of last night's State of the Union address was a spontaneous connection between an Iraqi human rights activist and the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq. It's hard to tell whether this indicates any wider affection between Iraqis and Americans; the Iraqi woman at last night's speech is unusually pro-American. But purely on its own terms, it was a touching moment of fellowship across cultures, showing how people can be united by the common value of liberty.

"Iraqi Woman, Marine's Mom Share Moment," Joseph Curl, Washington Times, 2/3/05

"None of the 5,056 words President Bush uttered last night in his State of the Union address was as moving as a simple hug between an Iraqi woman who voted for the first time and the mother of a US Marine who died fighting to give her that privilege. The powerful moment, a snapshot of the sacrifices Americans have made to free Iraq from dictator Saddam Hussein, came near the end of the president's address as he introduced the parents of Sgt. Byron Norwood of Pflugerville, Texas.... Choking back his emotion, Mr. Bush said: 'Ladies and gentlemen, with grateful hearts, we honor freedom's defenders, and our military families, represented here this evening by Sergeant Norwood's mom and dad, Janet and Bill Norwood.' The parents stood and acknowledged the thunderous applause. Just then, Safia Taleb al Suhail, who was seated one row in front of them in the balcony guest box of first lady Laura Bush, turned and reached up to Mrs. Norwood. The two embraced as the applause grew to a crescendo....

"The moment followed the president's praise of Mrs. al Suhail, the leader of the Iraqi Women's Political Council, who had flown to the United States after voting Sunday in Iraq. 'She says of her country, "We were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. Thank you to the American people who paid the cost, but most of all to the soldiers." ' "