Break the Chain A Touching Salute

Updated (12/17/2001) Following the events of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush's character was definitely under scrutiny by the world press and public. This report of him meeting a brave soldier in the hospital paints George W. to be a noble and honorable man.

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Chills...this is good!!!

This is a small, but true story to give you an idea of the kind of man and the kind of woman we have in the White House right now. As you may know, the President and Mrs. Bush visited the Washington Burn Center on Friday 14 September. Among those they visited was TLC Brian Bridewell, who was badly burned in the Pentagon attack. Mrs. Bush went into Brian's room, spoke to him for about a minute, all the time as if they had been life-long acquaintances. She then turned to Brian's wife Mel who at this time had been at the hospital for probably 2 1/2 days, and apparently, according to Mel herself, was dirty, grimy and had blood on her shirt. Mrs. Bush hugged Mel for what Mel said seemed like an eternity, just as if Mel were one of her closest family members. Mrs. Bush then told Brian and Mel that there was "someone" there to see him. The President then walked in, stood by Brian's bedside, asked Brian how he was doing, told him that he was very proud of them both and that they were his heroes. The President then saluted Brian.

Now, at this point in time, Brian is bandaged up pretty well. His hands are burned very badly as well as the back of him from the head down. His movements were very restricted. Upon seeing the President saluting him, Brian began to slowly return the salute, taking, from the accounts so far, about 15-20 seconds to get his hand up to his head. During all of this, 15-20 seconds, President Bush never moved, never dropped his salute.

The President dropped his salute only when Brian was finished with his, and then gave Mel a huge hug for what also probably seemed like an eternity. No further comments. Pray for our leadership.Thank God for what we are, have, and will be.

As a note to those of you who might not be familiar with military protocol, the subordinate normally initiates a salute and will hold it until the superior officer returns the salute. In the above incident, President Bush acted in the role of the subordinate to show his respect and high regard for the injured man.

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In a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Ari Fleisher, told reporters that President Bush visited the Washington Medical Center on September 13, 2001 and met many of the survivors of the terrorist attacks on September 11:

"At the hospital, [President Bush] met with people who are in a burn unit now, who have survived. Some people are there as a result of the heroic actions they took in saving lives. The President met with one family where a mother stood by the bed of her son, in the company of the soldier who rescued her son. And she said, 'Mr. President, you have no idea how much this means to my family, that you are here.'

"He and Mrs. Bush were very touched by the courage they saw at this hospital, and by the determination of our nation and its military, and all the people that were affected by this, and the people in New York City. The President is also aware that people in this room haven't seen their children in days.

"The President is determined, his resolve is clear and strong, and America is united."

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I could find no references to this meeting or to Brian or Mel Bridewell in any of my regular news sources, including the Washington Post, until I found that their name had been changed in the e-mail chain letter (presumably by someone who thought it was misspelled or by someone's spelling checker). Donna McGuire of the Kansas City Star interviewed the Mel and Brian Birdwell about the meeting between the couple and the President. Her article appeared in the Star's December 10 issue, but she told BreakTheChain.org that believes the account circulating by e-mail pre-dates her piece:

"I have interviewed three people who were in the room that day: Brian Birdwell, Mel Birdwell and the director of the burn unit. All three tell the story basically the way it is in the e-mail. However, the e-mail is NOT from my story. It probably pre-dates my story, which published Dec. 10.

"The Kansas City Star ran an earlier account of the event on our sports pages (Brian Birdwell is a big Chiefs fan). That ran sometime in late September or early October."

We have plenty of reason to belive this one is true, but can already see the limitations of e-mail as a tool to share the story. Tales like this one tend to mutate as they go around, as we can already see from the name change. While it's a good message to spread, e-mail may not be the best tool for doing it. Break this chain.

What Do You Think?


References: White House press briefing

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