Break the Chain A Presidential Prayer Visit

Created 6/21/2003 (7/7/2003) President George W. Bush is well-known as a man of deep faith and respect for the young men and women under his charge as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. First-person accounts like this one are popular among Bush supporters, but often raise skepticism because they are difficult to corroborate.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

At Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington DC recently the Sergeant Major of the Army, Jack Tilley, was with a group of people visiting the wounded soldiers. He saw a Special Forces soldier who had lost his right hand and suffered severe wounds of his face and side of his body. The SMA wanted to honor him and show him respect without offending, but what can you say or do in such a situation that will encourage and uplift?

How do you shake the right hand of a soldier who has none? He decided to act as though the handwas not missing and gripped the soldiers wrist whilespeaking words of comfort and encouragement to him.

But there was another man in that group of visitors who had even broughthis wife with him to visit the wounded who knew exactly what to do. This man reverently took the soldiers stump of a hand in both of his hands, bowed at the bedside and prayed for him.

When he finished the prayer he stood up, bent over the soldier and kissed him on the head and told him that he loved him.

What a powerful expression of love for one of our wounded heroes! And what a beautiful Christ-like example!

What kind of a man would do such a thing ?

It was the wounded man's Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush; President of the United States. This story was told by the SMA at a Soldiers Breakfast held at Red Arsenal, AL, and recorded by Chaplain James Henderson, stationed there.

Pass it on...the press won't.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

From what we know of Bush's character, this story is not hard to believe. It shares many parallels with previous testimonials about his encounters with a soldier burned in the Pentagon attack of September 11 and a missionary in China. While the facts in those cases bore themselves out (more or less) over time, the chain letters containing them quickly changed from their original forms, thus diminishing their validity. The account above first appeared on the 'net in late April, 2003. While it is based in fact, it demonstrates what can happen to a story as it is retold over and over.

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The Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) confirms that Tilley and President Bush visited Walter Reed Medical Center in April, 2003, and both met with the unnamed special forces soldier who had lost his right hand. However, they were never there together. The President and Mrs. Bush toured the Center and the National Naval Medical Center on April 12, 2003. Tilley was at Walter Reed several days earlier. Tilley's account of the encounter between Bush and the wounded soldier was relayed to him by yet another unidentified special services soldier who was at the hospital when the President visited.

According to the SMA's office, upon being saluted by the wounded soldier, Bush gently held the soldier's bandaged arm, said "God Bless You," then kissed him on the forehead. An SMA spokesman called the rest of the chain letter "a well-woven embellishment."

The assertion that the mainstream press will not run stories showing Bush in a positive, spiritual light is a common notion among frustrated Bush supporters, but it was not originally part of the message above. It has been tacked on by an anonymous, well-meaning forwarder. What that person fails to mention is that none of the major conservative, decidedly pro-Bush media outlets have reported this story either. Unfortunately, it's often hard to tell the original content from notes and changes added as e-mail chain letters circulate - which is one more reason you should break this chain.

What Do You Think?

Category: Political Ponderings
References: Snopes.com, TruthOrFiction.com

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