June, 2004: A month to remember
This observer cannot recall a month as moving and tumultuous as was June, 2004. For Wonder Wife and yours truly June began with an opportunity to meet President George W. Bush, to have two brief conversations with him, to pose for a presidential photograph and be present as he spoke to a small gathering about his vision for the future and the path ahead for the War on Terror. We both came away with the feeling that George W. Bush is not concerned about what the editorial writers for The New York Times or The Washington Post or the L.A. Times think he ought to do. He is marching to a different Drummer with Whom they do not seem all that familiar.
The President told us that he and the First Lady feel lifted up by the prayers of those who pray for them. He encouraged us to pray for those who are defending our country so bravely and under such difficult circumstances. Wonder Wife showed the President a candid photograph taken years ago at small gathering in Omaha when then Vice President George H.W. Bush and yours truly were engaged in conversation. The President looked at the photograph, then looked back at me and with a grin told Wonder Wife: “They both looked a whole lot younger then.”
Three days later, on June 4th, Granby, Colorado, the town ten miles to our south, was bulldozed by a man who felt he had been seriously mistreated by the local oligarchy when the town board allowed a concrete batch plant to be constructed next door to his place of business. As the bulldozer rampage was in full force, Wonder Wife was another ten miles south in Fraser. Fortunately, she was never in any danger; however, it was about five hours before the roads were reopened to the point she could get home.
What happened in Granby was, of course, unexpected. But the very next day the expected occurred -- the passing of President Ronald Wilson Reagan. For some reason, I had spent the previous two months reading eight books on the life of Ronald Reagan and his Presidency. As we watched the moving memorials and ceremonies, I found myself talking to the TV set with suggestions on which Reagan vignette to tell next.
On the evening of the internment ceremony at the Reagan Presidential Library, we found ourselves in The Mountain Village above Telluride, Colorado, with our friends, Leigh and Susan Taylor. We sat in five-star condo complex as the ceremony unfolded, wiping away our tears and mourning the passing of our 40th President.
A week later, we had no sooner gotten back to our home on Lake Granby when it was time for our little “warbird” to undergo its annual inspection. We are blessed to have a retired Navy Captain who comes up from Pagosa Springs to do the inspection. It was also time for my biennial flight review. Aircraft and pilot passed with, you might say, flying colors.
That done, one of my editors at USA Today and I started putting the finishing touches on a fairly lengthy “think” piece about what this observer thinks is the proper Grand Strategy for the successful conduct of our affairs in Iraq and the Middle East. It was timed to appear on June 30th, the scheduled date for the institution of self-rule for the people of Iraq.
But President Bush, quite wisely, surprised the world (and the NATO Summit) by effecting the turnover two days early. That confounded the terrorists who aborted the violence planned for June 30th. Hopefully, that gave readers more time that day to read my op-ed piece on the Heartland Theory rather have to read more front-page coverage of violence. We writers like to think things like that.
June, 2004, was an emotional rollercoaster. We said hello to one President, goodbye to another President and our closest town was partially destroyed. Surely, July will be different.
William Hamilton is a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy by William Penn – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2004. William Hamilton.