Mark Shields: Obama Made “Reality Of War More Transparent”


Mark Shields is a Friday night treat on “NewsHour’.  His insight and perspective is refreshing and always squares with the America I know and live in.  This week I posted on President Obama flying to Dover Air Force Base to be there when coffins of American soldiers arrived.  I wrote that it was a sign of leadership that he would make this trip as President of the United States.

In part, I wrote the following.

The price of war is one that I have long argued needs to be shown, and there is nothing to be gained by hiding and denying what is sometimes the end result of a failure of diplomacy.  War is costly in many ways, and the visual result of war by means of the caskets are one that we must bear if we are to be honest about this part of our  foreign policy.

Today I was very pleased to read that Mark Shields also had a very positive response and writes the President passed the ‘the Dover test.”

The president of the United States is not just the commander in chief. The president is also the comforter in chief. That is what President Ronald Reagan was when, after 241 American servicemen, mostly U.S. Marines, were killed by a terrorist attack on their Beirut barracks, he went to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to honor those killed, to comfort those who survived and to give voice to the national grief. War’s endless expense in human suffering ought not to be shielded from either public view or from public responsibility.

President Obama, during his winning campaign, promised to make Washington more “transparent” and more “accountable.” At 4 a.m. on Oct. 29, as he stood silently by as six soldiers carried the remains of Army Sgt. Dale R. Griffin of Terre Haute, Ind., back to American soil and to those who mourned him, President Obama made both himself, and the national government he leads, more responsible and made the reality of war more transparent.

At Dover, he personally met with and consoled — in their time of profound sorrow — the families of 18 fallen Americans. No form letter or phone call. Just human being to human being.

As John Glenn said: “It’s easy to see the flags flying and the people go off to war, and the bands play and the flags fly. And it’s not quite so easy when the flag is draped over a coffin coming back through Dover, Delaware.” Barack Obama, by choosing the “not quite so easy” path, has earned his nation’s thanks.

One thought on “Mark Shields: Obama Made “Reality Of War More Transparent”

  1. Another way that war is hidden from us is with the all volunteer army. It keeps the experience inside the military community of soldiers, their families and the towns where bases are located. When there was a draft (WWII, Vietnam), it was a shared experience. And that made all the difference – we weren’t shielded from the cost of war.

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