Thursday, July 3, 2003

The Al-Rashid Hotel has been a Baghdad landmark - with a tile mosaic in the lobby floor that the American soldiers of Operation Iraqi Freedom didn't particularly appreciate. After the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqi government had sponsored the creation and installation of a mosaic of former President George Bush - set in a place where visitors would walk over the face of the President who had defeated their invasion of Kuwait. Needless to say, that image is not on the hotel floor anymore.

Well,

Thursday, May 15, 2003

I believe it was General Dwight Eisenhower who said, "There is no victory at discount prices." Certainly, the Coalition's "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was not an exception. Courageous warriors have again made the ultimate sacrifice. Even as the first casualty reports came in from Iraq, I was reminded of the unforgettable public appearance of a Gulf War soldier's mother not long after that war ended in 1991.

Appearing before over 50,000 people at a Billy Graham stadium meeting, she had been asked by Dr. Graham to share this remarkable letter from her son - one of the last soldiers to die in the first Gulf War. She explained that her son had asked his best friend to give the letter to his mother "if something happens to me," he said. Now that letter was in his mother's hands. Few would ever forget the words she read that afternoon: "Mom, if you're reading this, I didn't make it. But that's OK. Because now, Mom, for the first time in my life, I'm smarter than you are! Because I have seen heaven. I have seen Jesus!"

Well,

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

A "daisy cutter" sounds like something you'd use to trim up your yard, doesn't it? Well, don't try it - it's one of the most powerful bombs in America's new high-tech arsenal. It was used against the caves of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in the search for Al Qaeda. Iraq felt its force next, along with the new powerhouse they call the Bunker Buster. That bomb can actually penetrate deep underground to bunkers where military leadership may be taking refuge. Places that used to be impenetrable succumb to the power of new weapons that they just can't withstand.

Well,

Thursday, April 24, 2003

It started when the fire of a band's pyrotechnics suddenly started spreading throughout a night club in Rhode Island. In scenes captured on video and not soon forgotten, the fire quickly consumed the building, leaving over 90 people dead. When I heard about it, my mind immediately flashed back to another awful club fire, this one costing 165 lives. It was Memorial Day Weekend at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Kentucky, and the Cabaret Room was jammed with hundreds of people waiting to hear headliner John Davidson. Unbeknownst to them, an electrical fire had started in a wall and it was beginning to spread through the building. A teenage busboy suddenly appeared on stage in the Cabaret Room, and he interrupted the warm-up comedy act that was performing. He announced there was a "small fire" in the building, and he asked everyone to leave. Some did. Many refused to move. They thought it was part of the act. They weren't about to give up those hard-to-get seats they had for this holiday performance. Whatever the reason, that choice to stay cost many of them their life.

Monday, April 21, 2003

It's still one of the most amazing medical procedures ever developed - actually taking the heart of one person who has just died and shortly thereafter transplanting it into another person whose heart is failing. Today, over 2,000 of these heart transplants are performed every year in the United States. The first one took place in 1967, actually, in South Africa at a time when that country was racially divided by the system called apartheid. And the heart of a black accident victim was transplanted into the body of a sickly, 59-year-old man who happened to be white. And Christian Barnard, the heart surgeon who carried out this breakthrough operation, would go down in the pages of medical history with the giants.

Friday, April 18, 2003

It was a cold and snowy January afternoon in Washington, D.C. The passengers aboard Air Florida Flight 90 were anxious to get out of the city and to their warm Florida destination. They never made it. The jetliner couldn't clear the 14th Street Bridge, crashed into it, and then into the icy waters of the Potomac where it went straight to the bottom. Only five passengers and one flight attendant made their way out of the submerged wreckage and made it to the surface. They clung to a small section of the tail that remained afloat. The first responders were aboard a National Park service helicopter, lowering a ring-shaped lifeline to the people who were clinging desperately to that piece of wreckage. One of the survivors was described as a 50-ish man to whom they lowered that lifeline. Each time, he passed it off to someone else - until finally he was the last one left to be rescued. But when the chopper returned for him, he was gone. He was the one who didn't make it.

Monday, April 14, 2003

I had an 18-hour layover in Rome, a city I had never been in before. My missionary friend was willing to take me on a whirlwind tour, rainy day and all. We began at the ruins of the ancient Coliseum, a must-see for all of us Rome tourists. I left most of my luggage in an airport locker, but I was carrying my camera and my personal bag over one shoulder, an umbrella in one hand, and my camera in the other hand. Suddenly, we were surrounded by a small gang of pre-teen street kids - many of whom, as I learned later, frequent that area to hit up tourists like me. As they encircled us and started chattering and grabbing at us, I tried to make sure they didn't get any of my things. My friend got rid of them with a brandishing of his umbrella. We were about a block past the point of our encounter, when a dark-haired little girl came running after us, waving something blue in her hand. It was my passport! It had been in the vest pocket in my coat. It had somehow dropped out in all the confusion, unbeknownst to me. She handed it to me and then she ran away. God bless her.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

They were almost home. Then suddenly the white plume trail of the Shuttle Columbia fragmented into an unthinkable personal and national tragedy. And in a moment, six of America's best and brightest - along with an acclaimed Israeli hero - were gone. Once again, President George Bush had to address a nation stunned by another violent tragedy. What he said was all about "going home."

Well,

Friday, March 7, 2003

I don't know how it happened, but my wife and I somehow ended up with the smartest and cutest granddaughter in North America. Great - now I'm going to hear from grandparents all over the continent, contesting what I just said. But, look, I'm just being a granddad, right? Our little darlin' when she was just a few weeks old, oh man, she was really checking out her world. Now, of course, she was only beginning to understand what her fingers are for and how they work. But even then it was obvious what she wanted to do with those fingers. Initially, she was just feeling our fingers when we held her. But then she started reaching up with her infant coordination and reaching higher because she loved to touch the face of the person who's holding her!

Well,

Thursday, February 6, 2003

Tom is an acquaintance of mine who just became a daddy. Now, he didn't go to the local hospital for his baby - he and his wife went all the way to China. She's a little girl - and since families are restricted to one child in China, little girls can have a pretty rough time. This one did. She was found by a doctor, abandoned on a doorstep in the middle of a cold night. She was taken to an orphanage where they named her "Precious Treasure" in Chinese. It's almost ironic in light of her being abandoned, isn't it? It took several months, but Tom and his wife were eventually able to arrange the adoption of this precious treasure. She's got a mom and dad now who love her very much - who will never forget the first moment they took her from the folks at the orphanage and held her in their arms. Believe me, she's not an orphan anymore.

            

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