‘Don’t you ever forget that name’ – Washington Post 8-30-2021
President Biden made his way on Sunday around a quiet room at Dover Air Force Base, … with dignitaries and grieving families huddling together as the president came to speak to them privately, one family at a time.
Mark Schmitz had told a military officer the night before that he wasn’t much interested in speaking to a president he did not vote for, one whose execution of the Afghan pullout he disdains — and one he now blames for the death of his 20-year-old son Jared.
But overnight, … Schmitz changed his mind. So on that dreary morning he and his ex-wife were approached by Biden after he’d talked to all the other families. … Schmitz glared hard at the president. …. Eventually, the parents took out a photo to show to Biden. I said, “Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12,” Schmitz said. “And take some time to learn their stories.”
Biden did not seem to like that, Schmitz recalled, and he bristled, offering a blunt response: “I do know their stories.”
‘Don’t you ever forget that name’: Biden’s tough meeting with grieving relatives
By Matt Viser
The Washington Post
August 30, 2021
President Biden did not deserve this. It is the grieving father who, in my opinion, is wrong here.
Wrong to say what he did in the way he said it.
Biden did not, obviously, desire this tragic occurrence, and he is not responsible for it.
Admittedly, policies he recently implemented were an indirect cause for an airport attack in Kabul, Afghanistan last week that resulted in the deaths of thirteen U.S. Marines and service members. But Biden is not personally responsible. The suicide bomber and gunmen were.
Putting this aside, let’s focus on what’s appropriate, what is called for here.
You experience a death in your family. The mourners at the funeral or a wake make an effort to convey their grief and empathy, as do those officiating (a minister or priest, speakers at the service).
One should appreciate that they are there. That perhaps it wasn’t easy for them, that it evokes painful memories in them (such as President Biden’s own) of deaths they have experienced, that they are doing their best to be empathic and to express condolences.
That is all one can expect of others in such circumstances, whether the “others” are officials, family members, or friends. No one can ever share fully — experience fully — the grief of a grieving spouse or parent. To expect them to is self-serving and self-centered.
Everyone experiences in their lifetime moments of bereavement and personal grief. Others can recognize and empathize with yours, but they will never quite experience it (your grief) fully — which is to say, not the way you do.
Was it right to berate President Biden for not being sufficiently sorry (which was assumed with there being no basis for thinking so)?
— posted by Roger W. Smith
August 31, 2021
Great post, Rog. Agree 100%!