I have spent near 8 years either defending G.W. or attacking those who have mercilessly and unloyally attacked him. On this day, the time set aside to give thanks, I will spend a moment or two on the man himself and tell you why he has come to mean so much to me.
–I never considered myself particularly feminist. I grew up in a society of strong women where two parent earners were the norm not the exception and most valedictorians were females not males. Having never to fight the battle, I wasn’t overly sensitive to women who gave up careers to support their husbands either.
Then 9/11 happened and of course everything changed. I saw women who were nothing more than sex slaves and a society that believed female second citizenship a religious right. All of a sudden I understood how Americans must have felt like when the concentration camps of Germany was opened to reveal the depravity of the Nazi regime…so this is what all those emails were about.
And I bit my lip in anger–and deep tears, the kind that starts in your throat and make you swallow hard, began. I was a proud American from a nation so blessed that female apartheid and gender subjugation was something most of us saw in the movies or read about in books.
Fortunately for my new found indignation, the president of the United State insisted on going into nations of two of the worst offenders of female apartheid–Afghanistan and Iraq–and doing away with the rape rooms and lifting the sex veil of women–many who had previously been professionals. Yes, I know that going to war with Iraq had about as much to do with freeing females as it did with weapons of mass destruction…Saddam had signed a letter of surrender and after 9/11, no leader worth his/her salt could allow that man to have so much as a bb gun if it was aiming at America. But the fact is, when the commander in chief of the world’s mightiest military took down Saddam, he ended the rape rooms of Saddam’s sons.
I remember listening to two prominent feminists tell America that G.W. was the Abe Lincoln of the females of Iraq and Afghanistan for he had done for them what Lincoln had done for Blacks. Each may have had different reasons for what they did, but the results were none the less laudable.
–Like most busy Americans, voting was a duty, one reluctantly done every 2, 4, 6 years. The idea that I may actually risk my life to do so is not just foreign but completely ridiculous; there are some among us that won’t risk saying anything politically incorrect for fear of offending somebody somewhere who may take it the wrong way and sue our butts. And having anything over 51% of the population actually giving up their holiday-time to stand in long lines and vote for people many of them have never taken the time to research would be considered a near miracle.
Yet “Hell froze” when millions of Iraqis risked their lives and voted. I remember a woman with her 5 daughters displaying their “purple fingers”–proof that they had voted, like a badge of honor and I thought, my God, what courage. Thoughtout the years whenever someone would complain about the Iraqis helping themselves out and fighting, I’d remind them of those millions of brave souls who risked EVERYTHING to do what most people in the free world cannot be bothered to do.
If G.W. had never done another thing for the rest of his life, giving 2 nations the Bill of Rights and “purple” fingers should be enough to put him not just in the “great” category of presidents and leaders, but in that moral chapter that certain people given power have in the Book of Life.
–For all my education and my line of work, I confess that prior to that September morning, I had been detached from those outside my inner circle. Yes, I have dealt with the wealthy and the powerful and I have even spoken, on occasion with the very poor and somewhat dangerous. But my world doesn’t have heroes or truly evil creatures. To succeed, you learn the shades of lies and the art of omission. No, let us be honest, to LIVE, just to make it to adulthood, you learn when and who you can tell some truths to. Honesty has a price, the more given, the more extracted. And with each bill, like a drug that continues to need a larger dose, concepts of heroism fade as the bar keeps getting higher.
I remember the first time I saw G.W. with the troops; he was like a boy among bigger than life real heroes. The look on his face made every person stand just a tiny bit taller for it was a face of unadulterated awe and admiration. Here was the world’s most powerful man staring at each of them like they were heroes, professionals on the highest level.
And I remember him on the hill, among the firemen, the policemen, and the emergency personnel–heroes in my parents time. G.W. was just one man but he was backed by a host of real genuine heroes at a time when America needed to remember that we possessed heroes in mass quantity.
It was at that moment that I gave thanks–and continue to give thanks for a president that had the courage to stand, if needed alone, on a hill and face a nation awakening to the fear of terrorism the rest of the world has known for decades. He didn’t give us flowery words or phrases that would be quoted for generations. He simply said that the world would hear from us.
At a time when America felt the wind knocked out of her and shock and fear had paralized all rational thought, G.W. Bush, the nation’s leader and the commander of her great military told us that we still had a voice–and we would someday, soon, use it.
I have never been one of those who idolized the powerful and the beautiful. You probably won’t see my name on anyone’s fan logs. And most times, “thank you” has a “but” following it.
To the man on the hill on that day following 9/11, let me take this day to do the later of the above.
Thank you President G.W. Bush…for the females of Iraq and Afghanistan…for the human courage of purple fingers…for heroes.
For giving me back my world after 9/11 and a new world I can believe in.
And this time, just once, there are no “buts” that follow.