Tuesday, November 24, 2009
This story isn't about Sarah Palin - it's about the people of Fort Bragg who went to see her.
Normally I shun any kind of crowd action and I don't get involved in politics, but my 13-year-old daughter asked me to take her to see Sarah. This is the same girl who consistently brings home straight A's, wins every contest she's ever entered and who somehow got me into Senator Liddy Dole's offices and on a private tour of the Capitol building while Congress was on break last year; I'm home for the Thanksgiving holidays so I figured I could accommodate her. I cut her loose from school for an opportunity to get a little 'O.J.T.'* Civics 101.
* On The Job Training
I had some running around to do so we didn't get there until 10:00 am and the crowd was already wound around the building. It started to rain, so I went inside & bought an umbrella.
Things were surprisingly civil at the book signing; these shots are from the media, but I was this close and there was plenty of room to mill about in the little avenue to crowd control folks had arranged to let people in and out of the PX to do their shopping.
On the way back to my place in line I paced it: at an estimated five people per full pace count, I pegged the crowd was about two thousand. By the time Sarah showed up at 11:00 am the line had lengthened another 30% at least. The press is reporting about four thousand people showed up.
Not bad for a cold rainy Monday in late November.
There was electricity in that crowd, but I am here to tell you this was the most well-heeled and well-behaved crowd of that size I have ever seen. Everybody had a haircut and was dressed normally. No freaks or weirdos, no political grandstanders; just everyday ordinary people come to see a person who embodies everything they stand for and believe in.
The most civilized crowd I've ever stood in.
Those of us toward the back half of the line knew we had a slim chance of making it to the front by the time the book signing was over. Sure enough, at about 1:30 pm a lady came out and told us 'Sorry, everybody from this point back won't make it.'
There were no scenes. There was some grumbling, sure, but folks at Fort Bragg know the deal; self-discipline and stoicism is the theme and fiber of the warrior class.
Of course we moved toward the entrance of the PX and laid siege to it, waiting for Sarah to come out, and that is when we hit pay dirt.
When Sarah finally emerged, she shook every hand that was outstretched and signed books all the way to her PalinMobile. The lady is a class act, all the way.
My daughter got her copy of Going Rogue autographed, got her handshake and got a hug, and Sarah made off with my 3d Special Forces Group pen. Then Sarah stopped at a young lady in uniform standing directly in front of me and the look on her face as she gave the young soldier a hug was a combination of gratitude, appreciation & understanding coming from an Army Mom to one of the troops.
I wish I had a better picture of that moment . . . the kind of emotion I saw cannot be faked . . .
Y'all know it takes a LOT to impress me - I can't begin to describe the effect of her charisma - that look on her face when she hugged that young soldier really moved me . . .
. . . then, thousands of signatures later, Sarah Palin was gone . . .
- Sean Linnane,
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
23 November 2009
"The Department of Defense typically prohibits politicians from using installations as a platform, so Palin didn't give a speech and simply thanked soldiers individually. She was allowed to hold the event as a private citizen who was not campaigning, a Fort Bragg spokesman said.
"Army officials initially feared the book signing might turn political and negative comments would be directed at President Barack Obama, so they barred media from attending. The Army later relented and allowed coverage . . . many people who attended voiced their opposition to the Commander in Chief."
- Fayetteville Observer, 23 November 2009