In a little less than a month Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th President of the United States. In some respects he’s going to have some pretty big shoes to fill…
From the Wall Street Journal:
The President Comforts a Marine Mom
By William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2003
This Thursday morn, Julie McPhillips will awake to the great hope that is Christmas Day. And amid her joy for the Savior born of woman in a Bethlehem stable, she will offer two prayers.
The first will be for her son, Lt. Brian McPhillips, killed in action in April 2003 as the First Marine Division fought its way into Baghdad. The other will be for the man on whose orders Lt. McPhillips was sent to Iraq: George W. Bush.
You see, Julie McPhillips knows a side of the president that never seems to make it into the newspapers. Since a meeting in the Oval Office a few years back, the two have exchanged letters, many written in the president’s hand. Through the sadness that binds them together, they look eye to eye and let their hearts do the talking. Read the rest…
And from the Washington Times:
EXCLUSIVE: Bush, Cheney comforted troops privately
Met with thousands of war injured, kin out of spotlight
By Joseph Curl and John Solomon, Washington Times, Monday, December 22, 2008
For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.
Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country.
On Monday, the president is set to make a more common public trip – with reporters in tow – to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, home to many of the wounded and a symbol of controversy earlier in his presidency over the quality of care the veterans were receiving.
But the size and scope of Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Cheney’s private endeavors to meet with wounded soliders and families of the fallen far exceed anything that has been witnessed publicly, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials familiar with the effort.
“People say, ‘Why would you do that?'” the president said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Times on Friday. “And the answer is: This is my duty. The president is commander in chief, but the president is often comforter in chief, as well. It is my duty to be – to try to comfort as best as I humanly can a loved one who is in anguish.”
Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching – balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin – that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support.
“I lean on the Almighty and Laura,” Mr. Bush said in the interview. “She has been very reassuring, very calming.”
Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said.
The first lady said those private visits, many of which she also attended, took a heavy emotional toll, not just on the president, but on her as well. Read the rest…