Nobles and Knaves

Article excerpt


Nobles: Janet and William Norwood and Safia Taleb al Suhail, for a hug that embraced all humanity.

A most hopeful image of this young century came near the end of President Bush's State of the Union address on Wednesday.

Earlier in his speech, the president had identified Mrs. al Suhail, sitting next to first lady Laura Bush, as one of the millions of Iraqis who had voted in Sunday's elections. As Mr. Bush related, her father was assassinated 11 years ago by Saddam Hussein's intelligence service. Undeterred, Mrs. al Suhail became an advocate for democracy and human rights in her country, heading the Iraqi Women's Political Council. When the president acknowledged her, she stood and raised her ink-stained finger in the air - a symbolic act of the franchise quickly followed upon by Republican lawmakers. That moment in itself was enough to take one's breath away.

Then, the president acknowledged two other persons in the chamber sitting directly behind the first lady and Mrs. al Suhail. Mr. and Mrs. Norwood lost their son, Marine Sgt. Byron Norwood, on Nov. 13 during the Marines' assault on Fallujah. Referring to a letter Mrs. Norwood sent to him after her son was killed, the president quoted: "When Byron was home last time, I said that I wanted to protect him like I had since he was born. He just hugged me and said: 'You've done your job, mom. Now it's my turn to protect you.' "

When the Norwoods stood to be recognized, Mrs. …