President Bush went before Congress and the nation last Wednesday night to deliver his annual State of the Union message. In addition to issues such as Social Security, Iraq, Afghanistan, he also discussed family values and the importance of democracy.
The president stressed on the great responsibility of Americans to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society to their children and grandchildren. "Tonight I propose a three-year initiative to help organizations keep young people out of gangs, and show young men an ideal of manhood that respects women and rejects violence," he said. "This broader outreach to at-risk youth, which involves parents and pastors, coaches and community leaders, in programs ranging from literacy to sports and the leader of this nationwide effort will be the First Lady, Laura Bush."
The president also outlined the responsibility of Americans to leave an America that is safe from danger, and protected by peace for future generations. "We will pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy,"he said, "and chief among them is freedom from fear."
The president cited the story of an Iraqi woman who went to the polls Sunday and voted to elect a new Transitional National Assembly in Iraq. "Waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day in Baghdad, the young Iraqi woman wondered if it might be too dangerous to vote. Hearing those explosions, it occurred to her - the insurgents are weak, they are afraid of democracy, they are losing. So she got her husband, and her parents, and they all went out and voted together," the president said. "Americans recognize that spirit of liberty, because we share it. In any nation, casting your vote is an act of civic responsibility; for millions of Iraqis, it was also an act of personal courage, and they have earned the respect of us all."
Another example given by the pesident is of one of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates, Safia Taleb al-Suhail. "Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service," Mr. Bush said. "Three days ago in Baghdad, Safia was finally able to vote for the leaders of her country - and we are honored that she is with us tonight."
There were two special guests of Laura Bush that night. Safia Taleb al-Suhail, leader of Iraqi Women's Political Council and Homira G. Nassery, who voted in Afghanistan's presidential election in October.