Here are two letters from people who have a right to be heard. No comment is needed. Please read them both.
From a Marine's father: (via PowerLine)
If [our son] had been killed, we would have been first informed by a visit - in dress blues - from a condolence team typically consisting of two Marines and one Navy Chaplain. We know many families who've received that knock on the door. No letter is required. No words are required. A simple peek thru the view hole in the door and the sight of dress blue blouses, white covers and white gloves tells you all you ever need to know. A letter of condolence from the SecDef is, honestly, not even worth opening. Families are much more interested in hearing from the men who served with their son and from their families. We share the constant knowledge and fear that it could be our door bell being rung. Sec. Rumsfeld doesn't know our son. He's a Lance Corporal. He directs a machine gun team. He is a vital link in the line that protects our way of life. He doesn't fight for his country, he doesn't fight for the SecDef, he doesn't even fight for his mom and dad. He fights for the guys on either side of him and for his team. He fights to secure his objective of the moment, which he may or may not understand or agree with. Sec Rumsfeld doesn't need to take time from his day to sign a form letter of condolence and he certainly doesn't need to take time to figure out what the LCpl was doing when he was killed or what kind of a man he was. His job is to make sure the LCpl didn't die in vain and that only as few LCpl's as possible will have to die to end this war in a successful manner.
Don't get me wrong, we would appreciate the condolence letter from the SecDef, as well as one from the White House and from our Senator and Representative, from the Mayor and Governor. But none would bring back our son. And they are all form letters, signatures be damned. A letter from his 1stSgt, from the men we know in his unit would be a treasure and a comfort.
I don't know what happens in other branches, or even other units. But in 2/4, I know the 1stSgt's personally contact the surviving family with letters, emails and phone calls of condolence.
By the way, we know families of fallen Marines who've been flown to sites where President Bush was speaking. He met with them privately after his event, never any press coverage, and the families have said that - after being given an agenda for their time with the President and being told that he's on a very tight schedule - Mr. Bush talked to every family member as long as they wanted to talk, never hurried anyone, cried with family, hugged everyone and they all felt like he had nothing else to do for the rest of the day but bring comfort to them. For that, George W. Bush has my eternal respect and gratitude. And there was NEVER one word of publicity surrounding any of these meetings with families. (I have pictures to dissuade doubters.)Bottom line, we support Sec Rumsfeld. The people who are making a big deal about this have their heads up their collective a****. They need to have a serious priority check on what people in positions of responsibility should be doing with their time. They should also chat with some military families if they could figure out how to contact them.
An email from Texas to The Corner:
Clinton has been out office for 4 years, the Twin Towers pulverized 3000 souls and yet even Conservatives can’t let go of the “it’s all about my feelings” ethos of the 90s. Am I appalled that Rumsfeld might use an auto pen to sign letter of condolence to the next of kin? Absolutely not. I want him working full bore 24/7 to re-organize the Army and win the war in Iraq. Let’s be honest here. How important is a form letter from the Secretary of Defense intoning, “On behalf of the President and………..”
You know what the families crave, honest to goodness personal letters from the commanding officer of their loved one’s company and battalion. These are real people who knew the deceased. People who can honestly say, “I was there when John pulled one of his squad members out of the ambush”, or “Mary upheld the highest traditions of the Army”. This is just another weak criticism of a man who has a difficult job. It appears that the only way his opponents can attack him is to nibble him to death.
What do people expect? For Rumsfeld to personally go to Kuwait and bolt armor on Humvees? Do they want him shed tears for the dead? As any veteran will tell you, there’s time enough for tears after the battle is won. Just months ago, some media morons were echoing this choice morsel, “Why doesn’t the President go to Dover and meet the coffins of the dead?” Isn’t this just too ludicrous for words? The President and the Secretary of Defense owe a greater duty to the living than the dead. Even as late as the Vietnam era, the response of the American public was to suck it up and drive on.
Eisenhower would probably agree with the statement that “every life is precious”, but that does not change the military and moral calculus on the beaches of Normandy. Sometimes soldiers die. The duty of the chain of command is to see to it that a soldier’s death is a positive contribution to a just and moral end, not an offering to Odin.