The Corner

A Mother’s Bravery, An Example For a Country

This comes from Karl Zinsmeister’s hot-off-the-presses book, Dawn Over Baghdad: How the U.S. Military is Using Bullets and Ballots to Remake Iraq

There are times when the best response, perhaps the only response, to the hard blows of existence is to embrace each lump as a badge honoring the determined striving that produced it. In 1918, Teddy Roosevelt’s son Quentin (who had left Harvard during his sophomore year to serve in World War I) was shot out of the sky in one of aerial warfare’s early dogfights. German propagandists took photos of his maimed body amidst his plane’s wreckage and, hoping to dampen American morale, sent one to Mrs. Roosevelt. Rather than let herself be cowed, however, she insisted that the picture be framed and displayed over a mantelpiece, a symbol of her family’s sturdiness and their pride in sacrifice for a high cause.

As I traveled across Iraq with our soldiers, I thought of this incident. What Edith Roosevelt did was both a very hard and a very soft thing. She pushed aside her own grief and expressed admiration and undying love for her son by celebrating his bravery–and by refusing to abandon his fight.

ME: Mrs. Roosevelt saw probably the worst image imaginable–a mother having to look at the remains of her son, sent by gleeful, evil people–and she wouldn’t let anyone forget it. May we react similarly to the murders of Mr. Johnson, Mr. Berg, Mr. Pearl. We should react similarly to the scenes of torture of Iraqis. And to the memory of everyone who was murdered on September 11. And to everyone who has been murdered at the hands of the terrorists who would have us all dead.


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