- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2005

A victory for freedom of religion

Thursday’s front-page article “Virginia’s Pledge law sustained” carried great news for the students and parents of Virginia’s public school system. It reported that a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of public school students reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The case stems from Edward Myers of Sterling, who is disturbed by the Pledge’s reference to the United States as “one nation under God.” According to the article, Mr. Myers’ lawyer cites as his greatest concern the idea that “young schoolchildren are quite likely to view the Pledge as affirming the existence of God and national subordination to God.”

Mr. Myers is certainly entitled to his opinion, and I commend him for taking action on that opinion, but was his reservation shared by the people who founded our nation? The Founders’ view was well summarized by President Washington, who declared: “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

This is why the Declaration of Independence cites the “Creator” and the “Supreme Judge” as the basis of its moral authority. It’s why the Continental Congress and the states repeatedly called for days of public prayer and fasting during the Revolutionary War.

It’s why Washington pointedly added “so help me, God” to the presidential oath and took that oath on the Bible. It’s why he signed a flagrantly religious proclamation that established our modern Thanksgiving Day tradition. It’s why the first Congress (the same group that passed the First Amendment, by the way) printed Bibles at taxpayer expense and authorized chaplains for Congress and the military. And I’ve only scratched the surface.

It’s a shame that Mr. Myers can’t acknowledge or embrace the facts of our heritage. That heritage is why his views must be politely set aside.

BRIAN TUBBS

Ashburn, Va.

Cutting police an egregious blunder

Congress has committed an egregious blunder by its failure to approve the budget to maintain the U.S. Capitol Police Mounted Unit that was established a little over a year ago (“… And don’t downsize Capitol Police,” Editorial, Thursday). Consequently, the unit is being dismantled and the horses are being transferred to the U.S. Park Police.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer expertly made a wise decision to implement this unit. It is disturbing to realize that members of Congress clearly lack the focus and vision to recognize the significance of this important unit.

In an era where security needs are rampant in the wake of recent international bombings, potential terror threats, and the position of the United States Capitol, it is unfathomable to think that members of Congress are so shortsighted that they cannot see fit to continue to fund this unit that is able to aid and enhance security needs at the Capitol and surrounding areas.

The horses are capable of traversing paths quickly and easily where vehicles and people cannot. Congress certainly does not have its priorities in place as evidenced by this palpably narrow-minded and misguided action, yet they will fund other less important and more frivolous budgetary items.

The loss of the horses, moreover, is a traumatic event for the officers who handle them. Whether Congress recognizes, or cares to know, there is a working bond established between the officer and the horse. It is a productive working relationship, and the transfer of those horses to another agency will be difficult for all involved.

It is an appropriate time for members of Congress to take their recess because those who rejected the funding for the Mounted Unit obviously have lost sight of important issues. Their need for a break to reorient their thinking appears to be a much-needed requirement in the aftermath of this most unfortunate decision.

KAREN L. BUNE

Adjunct professor

Department of Criminal Justice

George Mason University

Arlington

Cindy Sheehan, Bush and Iraq

The left-elite news media are not interested in Cindy Sheehan as the grieving mother of a son killed in Iraq who has been wronged by the evil Bush administration (“Vacaville speaks,” Inside Politics, Nation, Wednesday). Rather, they are doing their best to lose the war in Iraq here on the home front, just as they did during the Vietnam War, turning every victory into a defeat. Why else would the media emphasize the victimization of our dead soldiers?

What’s even more unconscionable is that the media fails to recognize our fallen troops as heroes who liberated Iraq, fought terrorists and defended freedom and their country. Even though Cindy Sheehan has chosen to dishonor her son in favor of anti-Bush activities, 24-year-old Army Spc. Casey Sheehan is a hero for volunteering to be part of a quick response team to a riot in Baghdad. He was killed in a firefight outside Baghdad.

Only a few media accounts note that, according to his sister Carly, Spc. Sheehan was an Eagle Scout who wanted to serve God and his country his whole life. Spc. Sheehan was also active in the Catholic Church. “He would do anything for anybody. He’d give you the shirt off his back,” Carly said.

It is simply sickening to read and hear about antiwar, anti-Bush, anti-American organizations, activists and the media using a willing Cindy Sheehan as a poster woman for such a shabby, partisan political cause. Winning back the White House and the Congress at any cost is simply unconscionable, if not treasonous. Particularly in these perilous times.

DANIEL B. JEFFS

Apple Valley, Calif.

Cindy Sheehan, mother of slain Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, is placing President Bush in a most uncomfortable position as she continues to demand a meeting through her lengthy, well-publicized vigil near his Crawford, Texas, ranch, where the president is enjoying an extended vacation.

The president has generally found it easy to dismiss and keep at a safe distance those who challenge his policies, his most serious confrontations being those with the White House press corps on the rare occasions that he accepts questions without a script.

Mrs. Sheehan, however, is no ordinary challenger or dissenter. Her brave and valorous son sacrificed his life for the president and his Iraq policy. This grieving and angry mother cannot easily be disparaged or set aside or her motives impugned by the administration without it reflecting poorly on Mr. Bush.

It should be noted that Mrs. Sheehan has already met with the president and come away from that meeting with positive things to say about him.

She has since reversed course.

She says she wants our troops out of Iraq now and wants to know what our motivation is in remaining there.

We all know that the original premise for the war, that there were weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat to the United States, was patently false, whether the president knew it at the time or not. We also know that the link the administration has sought to draw between Saddam Hussein and the 2001 attack on our nation has not been demonstrated.

We are now in Iraq, we are told, to establish and nurture democracy and to “fight them there rather than here,” the assertion being that Iraq is the new center for terrorists seeking to expand their reach throughout the world. Iraq is, indeed, the new center of terror, but that is because we have made it so through our occupation.

Mrs. Sheehan insists that the president can and should take one hour out of a five-week vacation to meet with her, and, of course, he can. What would happen, though, if he did so? How many other antiwar parents of slain servicemen and -women would demand meetings with the president, and how could he deny them the same time and courtesy he would afford Mrs. Sheehan?

The president is in a sticky situation, but it is difficult for me to have great sympathy for him. He has embroiled us in an ill-conceived, ill-advised, poorly executed military conflict that has robbed us of more than 1,800 of our finest young people and injured more than 13,000 more, with a choking financial cost running into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

I agree with the president on one point: To abruptly pull out of Iraq would alert the world that we are surrendering and would cede the nation to the terrorists. The war, however, has been an unmitigated disaster. A symbol of the ruin left in its wake is the sad case of Cindy Sheehan and her family, whose mourning shall know no end.

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper St. Clair, Pa.

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