It’s black-tie season in Washington, and twice in the last week Barbara and I have gotten all dolled up to attend formal functions. We’ve gone to two banquets: for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and for the Navy–Marine Corps Relief Society, two of the most worthy groups in this country.
It’s an honor just to be there, surrounded by the best and the bravest men and women in America. The Relief Society provides grants, loans, and medical help to wounded and needy sailors and Marines; the Warrior Foundation provides college tuition to the children of special operators killed on active duty.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the failed rescue mission in Iran, Operation Eagle Claw, and the Warrior Foundation banquet honored both the special operators who flew into Iran and the hostages they hoped to release. Surprisingly, this was the first time that many of those men had met one another. We were guests of the youngest hostage, Marine guard Kevin Hermeling, and as luck would have it, several of his would-be rescuers sat at the next table. When he went over to thank them, one of them said, “You know, this is the first time anyone has thanked us in 30 years.”
The Navy–Marine Corps Relief Society banquet featured, as always, the Marine Band, which is simply the best. As you know, we are Marine parents, and we often remark that it’s unfair: The Marines have the best uniforms and the best band, along with the best TV commercials and the best sense of humor. Not that we don’t love the Navy, but . . .
Both events were very well attended, and both were notable for the people who were not present: only a tiny smattering of politicians, no journalists (at least so far as I could see), and no media organization on the list of contributors. Pity. They should’ve heard — ALL Americans should have heard — Gen. Hoss Cartwright’s speech when he wryly observed that we were at war but that all too few of us knew that.
There was one notable exception to the absence of journalists: Mark Bowden, who has written so much and so well about our military heroes, not only delivered some moving remarks, but contributed upwards of $15,000 to the Warrior Foundation. And more: His son became a Marine.