1 February 2006
The White House
Dear Mr. President;
We are eagerly looking forward to your address to the graduating class at West Point on May 27. Our oldest grandson will graduate that day and we will be in the audience, cheering him – and you. (And I will, most surely, be in tears.)
Last night in your State of the Union speech you made the most important statement you have made in your entire political career. You ran by it like a freight train through a crossing, but you said it. The media won’t pick it up because they don’t want to hear it but I, as a patriot, a citizen and a voter, want to spotlight it.
There’s an old joke: “When did the Romans become Italians?” I wonder if the question will be asked of Americans some day. And I wonder what the synonym/epithet comparable to “Italians” will be.
You said, ". . .many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials. . ."
Amen, I say. But being deeply concerned is useless. We need to do something about it. That's difficult because we are to blame.
Consider one of my recent political experiences:
In my research for a campaign close to my heart I accessed the public records concerning campaign funding for my local Representative, Dennis Moore. In those records I discovered that he has blatantly and (obviously) knowingly defied the Federal campaign law that restricts individual giving to $2,000.00 for a single campaign. Some of his contributors coughed up $6,000 during his last campaign and it's all there, in the public records.
So, at a meeting of local political activists, I asked what I should do with the knowledge -- and the proof -- that this man, now serving in Congress, has not only disobeyed the law but has flagrantly done so.
"Oh, everyone does it," these (Republican) politicos said to me, laughing and passing on to other subjects.
So..."everyone" breaks Federal campaign laws and regulations. That's bad enough but what's worse is that the American voter shrugs his shoulders and says, "Oh, well...everyone does it." By condoning such behavior, we encourage and support it.
Now consider another experience of mine: there’s a young man, Chuck Ahner, who is running for Dennis Moore’s seat in the upcoming election. Ahner is a West Point graduate. He will be opposed in a primary by another Republican candidate. Because of our experience with West Point and The Long Gray Line (our grandson, his father and grandfather and uncles as well as many of my cousins are all West Point graduates) we know how important honor is to them. And we know they really do live it, day by day.
So I, expressing my support for Mr. Ahner’s candidacy, am finding that the OBJECTION to him among local politicos is that he is a West Point graduate. “That’s all he has going for him,” they say. Never mind that he’s a conservative…the trouble is that he is perceived as being honest. Politicians, it seems, do not believe in honesty.
Is the American voter afraid of honesty? How dare we complain about lack of honor among our Congresspeople when we don't require it of them. "Honor" is outdated, old-fashioned, it is said. "No one believes that stuff today." The concept of “duty” died long ago. It is dead and buried in civilian life. God bless the USMA for keeping it alive in at least one segment of our society.
If honor is dead, then there is no hope for our nation. If we are not honorable and if we do not insist on honor, morality and ethical behavior from those who serve our nation, we deserve what we get.
We're already reaping the "rewards" of shrugging our shoulders and turning our backs on the concept of honor.
When the President of the United States can lie to a Grand Jury and the people shrug their shoulders and say, "well, it was about something personal" and believe that honesty in personal life is not important . . .
When a witness in a courtroom no longer has to swear "...so help me God" because it doesn't matter because people who don't believe in God will lie anyway, so why even try to hold anyone to a high standard . . .
When major American media -- like the New York Times and CBS News -- are content to manufacture and publish material they know to be unchecked and possibly even libelous because the courts have held that high-profile people can't sue to protect their reputations. . .
When people can't believe that others live according to the higher standards of honor and morality simply because they don't, won't or can't themselves . . .
And when those people belittle others who do live by a higher code and hold them up to ridicule. . .
. . . then our nation is lost and our legacy of freedom and liberty, two concepts that can exist only under honor, no longer exists. And it's our fault because we shrug our shoulders and say, "Oh well, everyone does it?”
Please, Mr. President. You need to address this issue. You need to be vocal about it. If you can leave a legacy of raising the American consciousness to the need for honor and ethics in our society, you will strengthen the nation and extend our heritage for another hundred years. If you don’t, we are lost.
Thank you, sir, for your service to our country. Thank you for suffering the slings and arrows of a vicious press and of vile political opponents. Thank you for loving our people and for doing your best.
God bless you and yours,
(Mrs. Herbert A. Tiedemann, Sr.)