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When duty and honor call

You heard what happened at Arlington National Cemetery when Hurricane Isabel struck. I wish our politicians could learn from it.

For the first time in its history, soldiers who man the Tomb of the Unknowns were given permission to leave their posts if the hurricane became too dangerous. But none would leave.

It is their job, after all, to honor and respect those who died for their country — to never forget their sacrifices — by marching before the tomb. And when the rain and winds were at their most powerful that night — more than 20 trees were uprooted at the cemetery — the sergeant relieved his staff and stood vigil himself for five and a half hours.

Meanwhile, just a few miles across the Potomac in Washington, D.C., our politicians have been chattering away. Sen. Ted Kennedy said the war in Iraq was a fraud. He said it was concocted by the Bush administration for political gain — that they distorted and misrepresented the facts to get us into the war.

When you listen to such cynicism, it’s easy to forget that just two years ago innocent Americans were murdered by people who hate us. It’s easy to forget that we are at war with an enemy unlike any we’ve fought before. That our long struggle will require an approach and commitment unlike any before. That we’re sure to stumble and readjust as we go.

Kennedy pretends that he is worried about our troops — that we should bring them home — when surely he knows that his words embolden our enemies. The strategy of those who are killing our troops is to foment discord in America. The more they believe they are succeeding, the more they will attack and Kennedy surely knows this.

It doesn’t take a seasoned political operative to see what the Democrats are up to. As the long process of rebuilding Iraq is under way, Americans are second-guessing the cost in money and lives. Though the economy is recovering, job growth hasn’t just yet. As a result, Bush’s poll numbers are faltering. Democrats smell blood.

And so they strike.

They know that Bush’s strategy in Iraq was incredibly bold. Some believe it was idealistic, reckless and unjustified. But it was certainly bold. Instead of letting the terrorists spawn and grow and attack us anew, Bush attacked the heart of terrorism itself — the corrupt regimes that nurture hatred and lies. If we can jump-start a true democracy in the Middle East, then perhaps we can drain the swamps of terrorism altogether.

Kennedy knows that it is in everyone’s interest for democracy to succeed in Iraq. He knows that it will take time — new water, electric and telephone systems need to be built. Banking and financial systems need to be in place. Twenty-five million people need to learn the lessons of democracy, how to rule themselves so that they may prosper and be a model for the world.

And Kennedy also knows that things aren’t so bad in Iraq. More than 65 percent of the Iraqi people want us to stay. The vast majority is glad Saddam is gone and see a brighter future for their country — if only the experiment that worked so well for America can succeed in their country, too.

So at a time when America should come together to rebuild Iraq — at a time when we should forget our political differences when so much is at stake for us and the world — what are the Democrats doing• They’re taking pot shots, fueling discord, doing everything they can to beat down Bush with hopes of recapturing the White House.

There is a time when duty and honor call and for the sake of our country we should simply do what is right, regardless of the consequences. As the presidential election nears, too many of our politicians in Washington are not heeding that simple call.

I recommend they take a cab over to the Tomb of the Unknowns where such selflessness is on display 24 hours a day, every day.


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