- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Saluting Nancy

Former first lady Nancy Reagan hasn’t made any major public appearances since the death of her husband, former President Ronald Reagan, on June 5.

Now, Inside the Beltway has learned that Mrs. Reagan, 83, will come to the District on May 11 for a national salute in her honor.

“A Nation Honors Nancy Reagan” is title of the tribute, said Fred Ryan, longtime chairman of the board of trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library.

“There is much interest in Washington and across the country for a tribute to Mrs. Reagan,” he explains. “There will be 1,000 people on hand, although the invitations have not gone out yet.”

Mr. Ryan says about 50 well-known names make up the tribute committee, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, all of whom are honorary chairs of the black-tie dinner gala.

“It’s says a lot to see this bipartisan interest,” Mr. Ryan says. “It’s really going to be a great tribute.”

Camp Uday

As Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, did on the House side yesterday afternoon, Sen. John Kerry today will welcome filmmaker Michael Tucker to Capitol Hill for a Senate screening of Palm Pictures’ “Gunner Place.”

Mr. McDermott’s staff says the documentary film chronicles the day-to-day experiences of the U.S. Army’s 2-3 Field Artillery unit that operates out of the former “pleasure palace” of Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein who was killed in a firefight with U.S. troops.

Endless border

If you think America’s borders are difficult to secure, imagine keeping terrorists, saboteurs and armaments from crossing the border into and out of Iraq.

And don’t think it’s just the U.S. military and Iraqi soldiers manning the dangerous border crossings.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security, recently deployed a second team of agents to Iraq and the surrounding region to help secure Iraq’s borders.

“Border security is critical to defeating terrorists ” whether at U.S. borders or the borders of Iraq,” says CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner, noting that his officers “volunteered their expertise and sacrificed the comforts of home” to take up their positions in and around Iraq.

One CBP team began training Iraqis at the Jordanian International Police Training Center in the capital, Amman, in August 2004. Since then, more than 2,100 Iraqi border control officers have been trained. Another team of U.S. agents arrived and began training Iraqis Feb. 7.

We’re told that more than 1,000 CBP officers are working outside the United States.

State of mind

Young Texans, old Texans, transplanted Texans, homesick Texans.

You name it, Texas boys and girls from here to Houston have written to Inside the Beltway after we questioned why so many official types in Washington who hail from Texas ” President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales,and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to name three ” are constantly reminding people of their Texas roots.

Former President Bill Clinton never bragged so much about Arkansas, nor did we hear former Vice President Dan Quayle sing “Indiana Wants Me.”

Reader William Hembree offers: “The answer to the question you posed is something I was taught many years ago in Midland, Texas: You don’t ask a man if he’s from Texas. If he is, he’ll tell you, and if he’s not, there’s no point in embarrassing the poor fellow.”

It has nothing to do with Texas geography, explains Bill Huffman of Columbus, Ohio: “Our family has lived in several states, including Texas. After living in Texas, I came up with the following summary: One lives ‘in’ Ohio or ‘in’ Delaware, but one ‘lives’ Texas. Alternately, Texas is not just a state, it is a state of mind.”

Russell Cannon, who lives in Alabama, agrees that folks hailing from other states aren’t as proud as Texas natives.

“I am a Texan, born and raised,” he says. “Though I have not lived there for over 20 years, my sense of patriotism to my state remains very strong. Among the many people with whom I work, only two have state patriotic decor in our offices, and we are both from Texas. What I wonder is why natives of other states are not the same way about theirs.”

Finally, David Sutton writes: “I only spent 18 years in Texas, but wish I could claim being born there as well.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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