Daily News/James Gordon Meek—He didn’t introduce himself. He didn’t have to.
President Obama simply stuck out his hand and asked for my name as he stepped toward me amid a bone-chilling drizzle in the Gardens of Stone.
This was Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery. I wasn’t there as a reporter, but to visit some friends and family buried there when Obama made an unscheduled stop – a rare presidential walk among what Lincoln called America’s “honored dead” – after laying a Veterans Day wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.What I got was an unexpected look into the eyes of a man who intertwined his roles as commander in chief and consoler in chief on a solemn day filled with remembrance and respect for sacrifices made – and sacrifices yet to be made.
I’m sure the cynics will assume this was just another Obama photoop.
If they’d been standing in my boots looking him in the eye, they would have surely choked on their bile.
His presence in Section 60 convinced me that he now carries the heavy burden of command.
I had stopped at Arlington to see the resting place of Ken Taylor, Ed Lenard and Dave Sharrett. Ken and Ed survived their service, in World War II and Korea, and died as old men. Dave did not leave Iraq alive. He was 27.
Obama arrived just before noon at the serene Section 60, where many of the dead from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried together – and where many more heroes will undoubtedly be laid to rest before this President leaves office.
It’s a section typically bustling with those visiting loved ones. Every time I go there, more and more graves have been dug into the earth.
The President and First Lady Michelle Obama emerged from their armored limousine hatless in the frigid downpour and took a slow stroll into the soggy rows of white marble headstones.
They stopped first at the grave of Medal of Honor recipient Ross McGinnis, an Army private who threw himself on a grenade in Iraq three years ago to save four buddies.
A sad-faced woman reached for Obama’s hand and pointed him to a nearby plot.
The face of another woman – who had grimly sat in a folding chair for hours next to a headstone she’d arranged flowers around – suddenly broadened into a smile as she stood to embrace Obama and thank him for paying his respects.
She was so overcome with emotion that a soldier from the Army’s Old Guard had to console her afterward.The President patted backs of a dozen other Gold Star relatives and troops visiting buddies now in the ground.
He gave hugs. He shook wet, chilly hands. He wanted to know something about each fallen warrior.
He began to slowly trudge back toward the motorcade – and to another White House huddle with his war council, which is advising him whether to send up to 40,000 additional troops into harm’s way in Afghanistan.
And then Obama noticed a tall, bearded figure. He probably didn’t see the mud-caked combat boots I trudged around Afghanistan in a few years ago.
“What’s your name?” a somber President asked as he extended his hand.
“James Meek, sir,” I replied, struggling to pull off my wool glove and pull my hood back from my head. “I’m here visiting a friend, Pfc. David H. Sharrett II, who was killed in Iraq last year.”
Tag Archives: reporter
Posted by Audiegrl
I watched this happen live today, and yes, my mouth was hanging open in shock. While reporting this afternoon from the floor of the Values Voter Summit, MSNBC reporter Brian Mooar was heckled by several audience members who said he was being rude and disrespectful.
Why are conservatives so damn angry? We have seen this type of behavior before. At teabag rallies, health care townhalls, and of course recently during the President’s speech about health care in the House of Representatives.
Why are they so put-upon and angry with everyone that doesn’t have the same ideology? Does this entitle them to throw out all forms of civility? Believe me, no one was more upset with Bush and his cronies for the last eight years, than I was. Well maybe Code Pink was more angry. 😉
But it would have never crossed my mind to be openly rude to a Republican. I always felt that we could always channel our anger in a constructive way, like social networking, civil protests, rallies, or ultimately in the voting booth.
This episode today was so far out of left field, that MSNBC now reports that Mooar received a personal apology from Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, the organization behind the summit. Perkins also said there would be an announcement made telling the audience to be respectful of the press.
I am pretty sure that this was not the picture that Republican’s wanted to show to the world today. Its a very ugly picture.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Here is another video, but this time they are heckling the Fox reporter. Now when they are even asking the Fox reporter to leave, then you know something is wrong in the universe.
President Obama’s colorful off-the-record comment about the incident was Tweeted by a reporter:
“President Obama called musician Kanye West a ‘jackass’ during an interview Monday with CNBC, an ABC News anchor reported to his followers on Twitter. But the tweet caused some red faces at ABC, and the network soon apologized for publicizing what had apparently been an off-the-record comment,” Garance Franke-Ruta reported Monday for the Washington Post.
“Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a ‘jackass’ for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT’S presidential,” “Nightline” co-anchor Terry Moran wrote Monday evening. Moran has more than 1 million followers on the microblogging service.
Speaking of Obama and West, maybe the President saw the YouTube mashup of the rapper dissing him ala GOP Congressman Joe Wilson, and thought it was real.
Now if we could only get him to call a Republican a jackass. 😉
Anyway, if you haven’t seen the video yet, here it is: