Why George Bush Requested a Military Aide Redo a Purple Heart Ceremony

Why George Bush Requested a Military Aide Redo a Purple Heart Ceremony

Remember when we had a president who actually cared about and respected our military? An emotional moment that George W. Bush shared with a wounded warrior was recounted by Dana Perino, in which he demanded that a military aide redo a Purple Heart ceremony.

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“Read it again.”

Those were the words of President George W. Bush during a visit to Walter Reed military hospital years ago.

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Dana Perino, who served as press secretary under Bush, explains in her new book why Bush once asked a military aid to perform a Purple Heart ceremony a second time.

According to Perino, Bush was scheduled to visit 25 patients during a 2005 visit to the hospital — many of them were in serious condition.

The first patient they were scheduled to see was a young Marine in the intensive care unit who had been injured by a roadside bomb, the Chief Naval Officer told Bush.

“What’s his prognosis?” the president asked.

“Well, we don’t know sir, because he’s not opened his eyes since he arrived, so we haven’t been able to communicate with him. But no matter what, Mr. President, he has a long road ahead of him,” said the CNO.

Perino wrote that the family was very excited to see Bush and that after the Purple Heart ceremony the president explained how “brave and courageous” the Marine was to his young son.

No one, however, expected what happened next.

The Marine had just opened his eyes. I could see him from where I stood.

The CNO held the medical team back and said, “Hold on, guys. I think he wants the president.”

The president jumped up and rushed over to the side of the bed. He cupped the Marine’s face in his hands. They locked eyes, and after a couple of moments the president, without breaking eye contact, said to the military aide, “Read it again.”

Perino wrote that the president started to cry during the ceremony.

So we stood silently as the military aide presented the Marine with the award for a second time. The president had tears dripping from his eyes onto the Marine’s face. As the presentation ended, the president rested his forehead on the Marine’s for a moment.

Now everyone was crying, and for so many reasons: the sacrifice; the pain and suffering; the love of country; the belief in the mission; and the witnessing of a relationship between a soldier and his Commander in Chief that the rest of us could never fully grasp. (In writing this book, I contacted several military aides who helped me track down the name of the Marine. I hoped for news that he had survived. He did not. He died during surgery six days after the president’s visit. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery and is survived by his wife and their three children.)

Politics aside, it is clearly indisputable that President Bush is a good man with a deep respect for the military. It’s no wonder that the troops love him so much — he clearly has just as much love in his heart for them.

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