Sunday, July 08, 2007

"Hope is a remarkable muscle."

I don't want to jinx it but we may actually be having a day without rain.

My mother in law is cruising the Caribbean on a private yacht, fully staffed. The six on board are being pampered by the likes of a private chef trained at Commander's Palace. She and her male companion flew to St. Thomas Thursday, where the yacht lives. The yacht is owned by her companion's daughter and son in law. She'll be vacationing a week. I'd like to think when I'm 85 years old, I'll be healthy, active and vacationing in exotic locales, too.

The title of this post is a quote of Mariane Pearl is from her book, recently published in paperback. I read 'A Mighty Heart', the story of Danny Pearl's life written by his widow, Mariane. Danny Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan in 2002. It is a remarkable read. She is a strong woman, devoted to preserving the memory of her devoted husband. It is a riveting story and she weaves the story from a personal point of view on the threat of terrorism to all nations today.

I didn't want to read it but I did want to read it. I put it off until the paperback version came out. Knowing the ending, it was too horrible to imagine reading such a heart wrenching story. I'm glad I did, though, as I learned some parts of the story I didn't know, or have forgotten.

I learned that the President of Pakistan, Musharraf, blamed Danny for being in Pakistan, doing his job. He was furious of the publicity the kidnapping brought to Pakistan.

I learned that Mariane, a citizen of France born of a Cuban mother and an Iraqi father, was treated well by Jacques Chirac. I have no use for Chirac but I was pleased by his support of her. He offered whatever assistance he could give to her immediately after the incident became known, as did President Bush, and the both of them followed the progress of the events. She met with Musharraf as she left Pakistan, at the end of Danny's story. Musharraf wants her to remember the existence of moderate Pakistanis, that the radicals are trying to kill him, too. Meeting with Chirac when she returned to their home in Paris, she was amused by the photos he insisted be taken of her and him together, and then of photos taken on the others who accompanied her to the meeting. Laura Bush asked to come by for a visit while she was in Paris and Jenna came, too. Mariane was impressed that Mrs. Bush did not bring press or publicity to the visit, it was on a personal, intimate level. She appreciated that Mrs. Bush didn't bother with small talk after presenting her with a bouquet of pink and white roses. Mrs. Bush expressed her outrage that the video of Danny's beheading was running on the Internet and that CBS News refused to honor Mariane's request that portions of the tape not be played on the evening news. Dan Rather was insisting on running it and the president of CBS, Hayward was told by Mariane, "You sleep with your conscience. But I'm going to tell you what really makes me sad. It is that those f***ers knew all along they should make a video, because they knew all along you'd be ratings-hungry enough to broadcast it. They appealed to your weakness, and you gave in."

The original placement of the video on the Internet was traced back to Saudi Arabia.

Mrs. Bush talked with Mariane about how unprepared Americans are for the new kind of war. They agree on that. They agree that Americans don't truly understand the international threat. She tells Mariane she has a mission, now, to speak up and share what she has learned with the American people.

Mariane spoke of the fact that she hadn't expected to be moved by a visit from the First Lady, yet she felt much stronger when the meeting was over. She found Mrs. Bush to be an intense, compassionate person with a seriousness of purpose.

Mariane met with President Bush when she arrived in the U.S. At the meeting, Attorney General Ashcroft, Colin Powell, and Condi Rice were also in attendance. She tells that President Bush has continued to be in touch and has written several letters to her. Bush encouraged members of the Gridiron Club in D.C. to write letters to Adam Pearl when he was born and tell him about his father. Mariane writes of being moved by that spur of the moment suggestion the president included in his speech.

The main reason I've been so hesitant to read this personal story was because this is my worst nightmare. For most of our marriage my husband has traveled the world as he works in the oil drilling business. He works his engineering magic in some dangerous parts of the world. We had an agreement that he wouldn't tell me any horrific stories until he was home and safe. Over the course of the past 24 years, he's come home three times with stories of the rigs being taken hostage by armed militants demanding ransom from the oil company doing the drilling. All of his incidents have been on the west African coast. Fortunately he was never harmed.

Currently, there are 5 known U.S. citizens being held hostage in Iran. They are being 'detained'. Very little is told of their plights in the media. I cannot image the nightmare existence being experienced by their families. Let's hope we respond a bit better than our friends the Brits did when their military members were held recently.

A great segment of the American public is naive of the ways of the world around us. With the new war on terror being waged, the sooner people wake up, the better. Europe is scrambling to quell the mess on their hands. Our only hope of survival is to remain on the offense.


Frasypoo said...

Such a great post.I too hesitate to read books where I know someone dies.That story really got to me when I heard about it when it happened and I was in India.I had done a post a while back on Marianne Pearl.She was my woman of substance.
I do not fathom how it is to live knowing that your husband has been captured by extremists and fearing the worst.I just cannot.
I know I do not have their courage and grace.
Also the stuff about Mrs Bush....she is such a wonderful woman,a true first lady.

Frasypoo said...

Forgot to add that I would give anything to trade places with your mom!
I also wish I had that zest for life!!I sometimes act world weary and I have barely lived my life!

wordnerd said...

I also hesitate to read accounts of what's going on over there, usually because they have that usual 'spin' affixed to them. Glad you read this one and told us about it -- I'll look forward to reading it.

I didn't realize your hubby traveled over there so often -- I'll keep you all in my prayers as well.

Beverly said...

At last I can leave a comment. An excellent post, Karen. I need to read her book, although knowing the ending, it will be a difficult read.

Incognito said...

Thank you for sharing this! Nice to read something positive about the Pres and Mrs. Bush. It's so infrequent.

Let's hope we can keep what's happening in Europe from reaching our shores, and that will come with due diligence. If we could only get more people to realize the potential danger.

srp said...

I love Laura Bush. Quiet, reserved, well spoken, commands attention in a quiet way, sincere, honest, thoughtful, beloved by staff, genuine, caring, intelligent, a wonderful ambassador for our country. Oh look! Everything Hillary isn't!