Friday, January 12, 2007

The Dunham Family: Located at the Intersection of Courage, Honor, and Grace

Had to change the channel last night before I drifted off. The Rosie-Donald thing kept rearing its ugly two heads. So, I surfed. Good thing I did. They were replaying the Medal of Honor ceremony for Marine Corporal Jason Dunham. He was awarded the medal posthumously by the President at a White House ceremony yesterday. And his parents were there to receive it. Here is the citation.

I tuned in as the citation was being read. Tears streamed down Mrs. Dunham's face. Tears streamed down the President's face. The looked at each other, and the President managed a slight smile, as if to say, when beauty and greatness reach the horizon of this world there are no longer any words.

Moments like these reveal the character of Pres. Bush. It's why, warts and admitted mistakes, disagreements and all, I will continue to support him. Rick at Brutally Honest posted thoughts on Pres. Bush that echo my own sentiments.

Afterwards, the family went outside to take questions from the press. Their character and grace was just shining. One reporter asked if Cpl Dunham had communicated his thoughts on the mission in his letters home. The parents looked at each other and smiled. "He didn't write much," Mrs. Dunham said, with a slight motherly look of "You know, Jason, I wish you had written more, but it's okay." But she pointed out that he did call. Mom didn't have much to say on the subject beyond that.

One reporter pointed out that the two Marines that Cpl Dunham had saved attended the ceremony. They had said some things to Mrs. Dunham afterwords, and the reporter wanted to know what was said. Mrs. Dunham answered, "That is a private conversation." This giant of a lady then went on to say that those two Marines that she viewed them as her own children now.

Both parents spent most of their time thanking the Marines for their support and love shown over the past three years. There was not one ounce of bitterness. I just found myself in awe of them. Mrs. Dunham nearly cried a couple of times, but she held it together. One reporter asked if there was anything else people should know, and she finished by telling the reporter, "I think you've dug up more than enough information about our family." The only people on this day that the Dunhams seemed to be upset with was the press. Great people, the Dunhams.

I found Mr. Dunham, Dan Dunham, to be a giant of a man. He was plain-spoken, simple, but I craned my neck to hear what he had to say. When the press followed up the question regarding Cpl Dunham's feelings about the mission, Mr. Dunham said, "He thought all people should live in freedom, as do I. And he loved his friends."

It reminded me that our troops, whether they understand or concur with our own views of why we are doing what we are doing in Iraq, they still believe in the mission. It shows in their professionalism. They don't flich, and neither should we.

The Dunhams repeatedly said that Jason's medal was really a tribute to all of our troops of all branches serving in Iraq. They communicated an important truth that those who have served know: Many heroes are unknown for they haven't had that special date with destiny. But they stand ready and perform their duties heroically in the day-to-day.

You could tell that even in this solemn ceremony, the press was looking for an anti-war angle. Mrs. Dunham seemed to just hover over the press corps in attendance. Not wishing to address hers or Jason's views on this day, she passed the question to her Marine officer escorts.

Maybe she knew that this would shut down the press conference. I'll bet she knew their views. I saw it coming. The press was still treading gingerly, but they asked the steely-eyed Marine major to Mrs. Dunham's left if he wanted to go back to Iraq "any time soon".

The major, who looked like about 175 lbs. of twisted steel, was visibly ticked at the question.

Here is what he said: "Well, I am currently serving in a "B" billet, which means that I am not going back any time soon. But yes, I absolutely want to get back over there as soon as possible. (Pause) Does that answer your question?"

I laughed out loud. Ooh-rah, major.

The reporter replied, "Yes, sir."

Semper Fidelis, and Godspeed Corporal Jason Dunham.