- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2003

Blew in one ear …

You might have read about “The Old Guard” hurricane vigil.

Now, “valiant” members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment are being saluted for their recent act of “patriotism” on Capitol Hill.

“As Hurricane Isabel’s winds swept over Arlington National Cemetery, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns were given — for the first time in history — permission to abandon their posts and seek shelter,” observes House Armed Services Committee Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican.

“But that wasn’t what was going to happen, and Sgt. Christopher Holmes knew it.”

To provide some background, the Army sergeant’s guards take turns patrolling the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns in hourly shifts — never leaving their post.

The tomb was established in 1921 with the interment of an unknown World War I soldier, and a sentry has been posted there continuously, around the clock, since 1930.

“Cemetery superintendent John Metzler didn’t want to put the guards in jeopardy unnecessarily with the fierce storm bearing down Thursday night,” Mr. Miller notes, “so cemetery officials decided to let the guards move indoors if they felt they were in danger.

“That’s never an option for us,” Sgt. Holmes was quoted as saying. “It went in one ear and right out the other.”

Buried treasure

Is archaeologist Ben Gates off his rocker by suggesting the whereabouts of a hidden national treasure is encoded on the back of the Declaration of Independence — placed there, no less, by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?

We’ll have to wait until November 2004 to find out. That’s when “National Treasure,” a suspense thriller starring Nicolas Cage (Gates), is scheduled for release.

As we speak, the movie is being filmed at several Washington locations, including Archives, Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and 12th streets, and Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 10th Streets.

Embarrassing capital

It was a unique and historic day late last week when D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams was invited onto the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Foremost on the minds of the visiting mayor and senators — a subject that will be revisited today — is educating the District’s children (Mr. Williams strongly supports a $13 million school-voucher program for D.C. children attending failing public schools). As it now stands, the city’s report card is a disgrace.

Or as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, points out, “the outcomes, the scores, are lower than any state in the country today.”

Incredibly, 6 percent (fewer that 1 in 10) of D.C. fourth-graders are proficient in math. A whopping 90 percent can’t read at their level. The dropout rate: 42 percent.

Holy terror

First on the Capitol Hill schedule this morning: confronting terrorism financing, with an address by former CIA Director Jim Woolsey.

The American Foreign Policy Council hosts today’s (9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.) panel discussions in Dirksen G-11, including assessments of financing dynamics and an exploration of problem states and their relationship with terrorism.

Meanwhile, Christian Islamic Forum board member Robert Spencer is author of a disturbing new book, “Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West.”

An authority on Islam for over two decades, Mr. Spencer seeks to destroy the “myth” that Islam is a “religion of peace,” arguing violence is “at its core.”

The threat of “violent jihad” is growing daily, and “moderate Muslims” have been unable to stop it, he contends.

The Regnery book quotes several Islamic extremists in this country, including Muhammad Faheed, a 23-year-old Muslim born in Pakistan who has lived in America from age 3, who told the Muslim Student Association chapter in New York City:

“We are not Americans; we are Muslims,” Mr. Faheed said. “It is us versus them. … The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it.”

Law abider

We had warned D.C. Council member David A. Catania, at-large Republican, that the official license plates on his car expired in June 2003. He wouldn’t have gotten a ticket, anyway. The city is now sticking license registrations on the windshield.

Mr. Catania assures us he is legal through 2005.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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