Posted: 06/07/14 20:00
by Dave Mindeman
At the D-Day ceremonies there were a number of World War II veterans on hand. They are a dwindling number....we lose them at the rate of about 400 per day. They have seen war up close and personal and they know why it sometimes needs to be done and what it costs.
After Obama gave his speech, he was confronted by one of those veterans. Nobody could hear what he was saying, but one reporter kept track of him and sought him out.....
....one of them--pale and bent beneath his baseball cap as if it weighed him down--stepped forward and took Obama's hand, and would not let him go until he had said his piece.
Was the infirm old soldier, perhaps, taking Obama to task for the scandals in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs? Was he telling the president that American policy needed more spine? An old survivor has a kind of license to say whatever he wants, even to the president of the United States. Obama smiled warmly. But then, in front of the crowd and the world's television cameras, he would. None of us in the crowd could hear.
Yes, that old soldier had an opportunity to take Obama to task for all of the scandals, the "bad" decisions, the "weakness" he has shown. But what exactly did he say?......
When the ceremony was over, I made my way through the arrays of marble crosses to the stage and to the man in the blue hat who had taken Obama's hand.
His name, it turns out, is Irving Smolens, and he was only 19 when he took part in the Normandy landing. Afterward he spent much of his life as a buyer of women's and children's clothing in Massachusetts, leading a quiet, peaceful life with his family.
"What did you say to Obama?" I asked him.
"I thanked him for keeping us out of war," said Smolens.
Yes....for all the GOP public criticism of Obama's foreign policy....for all of the perceived "weakness" that the GOP continues to fault him for....for all of the stands he has made and the pull backs he has done....for all of that, there really is just one thing to say.
Thank you, President Obama, for keeping us out of war.