One State of the Union Moment
By Gene Harper
Two women provided
the most touching moments during President Bush’s State of the Union
Taleb al-Suhail, leader of the Iraqi Women’s Political Council,
second on right, displays a peace sign as other guests applaud
during President Bush’s State of the Union speech at the
U.S. Capitol Feb. 2. Also pictured are, from left, Kindergarten
teacher Lorna Clark of Santa Theresa, New Mexico, Army Staff
Sergeant Norbert Lara, and first lady Laura Bush.
House Photo / DoD Photo
They had so
much, yet so little in common. Destiny — and a bit of planning
— brought them together in a testament to America’s fight against
Norwood and Iraqi Safia Taleb al-Suhail were seated with the president’s
wife, Laura Bush, in the House chamber perched above the ground-
floor level where the president was delivering his speech to Congress.
Al- Suhail was next to the first lady; Norwood, with her husband,
Bill, was directly behind al-Suhail.
followed modern custom by introducing his special guests at opportune
moments during his address. First, the spotlight shone on al-Suhail.
The president called her "one of Iraq’s leading democracy
and human rights advocates."
says of her country," he said, "’We were occupied for
35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. Thank
you to the American people who paid the cost, but most of all
to the soldiers.’"
representatives, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other Cabinet
members, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other invited guests heard
Bush relate how Saddam’s intelligence service assassinated al-Suhail’s
father 11 years ago. "Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was
finally able to vote for the leaders of her country," Bush
noted, "And we are honored that she is with us tonight."
applause, al-Suhail stood and alternately waved her index finger
and gave the two-fingered Iraqi peace sign, her hand visibly shaking
all the while.
his speech, laying out successes and challenges facing Iraq, and
then talked about the Norwoods.
He said that
the Norwoods had traveled from Pflugerville, Texas, to represent
their late son, Marine Sgt. Byron Norwood, killed in action on
Nov. 13, 2004, in the fierce battle of Fallujah, Iraq, to wrest
control of the city from insurgents.
mom, Janet, sent me a letter and told me how much Byron loved
being a Marine and how proud he was to be on the front line against
terror," the president said, "She wrote," he continued,
‘When Byron was home the last time, I said that I wanted to protect
him, like I had since he was born.’
hugged me and said, ‘You’ve done your job, Mom. Now it is my turn
to protect you.’"
introduced the couple, who were both moved by the extended applause
they received. Janet especially could barely contain her emotions,
her lip quivering and eyes watering.
the defining moment: Al-Suhail turned around and embraced Janet.
People nearby and the millions of television viewers around the
word could clearly see Janet clutching her son’s military dog
tags as she hugged al- Suhail. There they were — the ultimate
symbols of the war against terrorism, liberated citizen and grieving
mother, representing the burdens and hopes of democracy.
was more: To add to the poignant symbolism of this unfolding drama,
as the two women parted, the dog tags became entangled in al-Suhail’s
clothing. Janet Norwood carefully freed them. All the while, applause
continued, with the president and first lady still looking on
four years, Americans have seen the unfolding of large events,"
Bush continued after the assembly had just witnessed the symbolic
hug. "We have known times of sorrow and hours of uncertainty
and days of victory. In all this history, even when we have disagreed,
we have seen threads of purpose that unite us."
and Safia Taleb al-Suhail are the literal embodiment of that purposeful
attack on freedom in our world has reaffirmed our confidence in
freedom’s power to change the world," Bush said. "We
are all part of a great venture: to extend the promise of freedom
in our country, to renew the values that sustain our liberty,
and to spread the peace that freedom brings."
to the State of the Union Address:
of the Union Excerpts
Full State of the Union Address
of the State of the Union Address
of the Union Excerpts
ago, the President renewed America’s commitment to the ideal
of liberty for all. Tonight, he will lay out the policies to advance
that ideal at home and abroad:
the next several months, on issue after issue, let us do what
Americans have always done, and build a better world for our children
we must be good stewards of this economy, and renew the great
institutions on which millions of our fellow citizens rely.”
of America’s most important institutions – a symbol
of the trust between generations – is also in need of wise
and effective reform. Social Security… on its current path,
is headed toward bankruptcy. And so we must join together to strengthen
and save Social Security.
“Fixing Social Security permanently will require an open,
candid review of the options… I will work with members of
Congress to find the most effective combination of reforms.”
The President will talk about the enduring values that make America
strong, including promoting a culture of life and extending the
compassion of America by supporting community and faith-based
organizations that help our most vulnerable citizens:
second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren
is to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society…
Government is not the source of these values, but government should
never undermine them.”
President will talk about our on-going efforts to win the war
on terrorism by supporting the advance of freedom in the broader
Middle East and across the world:
third responsibility to future generations is to leave them an
America that is safe from danger, and protected by peace. We will
pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy – and
chief among them is freedom from fear.”
this time of war, we must continue to support our military and
give them the tools for victory.”
the next four years, my Administration will continue to build
the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time.”
the long term, the peace we seek will only be achieved by eliminating
the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder.
…The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny
and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human
goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side
by side in peace is within reach – and America will help
them achieve that goal.”
promote peace and stability in the broader Middle East, the United
States will work with our friends in the region to fight the common
threat of terror, while we encourage a higher standard of freedom.”
generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially
in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq.”
will succeed because the Iraqi people value their own liberty
– as they showed the world last Sunday.”
new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work
in that country…we will increasingly focus our efforts on
helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces – forces
with skilled officers, and an effective command structure.”
are standing for the freedom of our Iraqi friends, and freedom
in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come.”
volunteers of our military are unrelenting in battle, unwavering
in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they
are making our nation more secure.”