Tuesday, February 28, 2006

101 Good Reasons to Live in Alabama

Can't say I agree with all of these, but it sure is good for a laugh and there is a lot of truth in this list!

1. Cheese Grits

2. We're the reason God created Football.

3. World's last outpost of good manners

4. Humidity eliminates need for expensive home sauna

5. You can put a license tag on anything, drive it down the road, and no one will stop you.

6. Sweet Tea

7. Barbecue

8. Unlike less-fun Yankee states, it only takes one snowflake to create a statewide holiday

9. Supermarkets have cute names like Piggly Wiggly, Jitney Jungle and Winn-Dixie

10. No official limit on height of hair-dos

11. Children address adults using Sir and Ma'am

12. Police Officers greet you by name when pulling you over

13. Cultural trends take hold at a leisurely pace so everyone can get on board

14. Crocuses come up before the last Christmas decorations come down

15. New York and California not taken seriously

16. Gulf Beaches

17. Everyone knows how to tell a good story

18. Politics are more entertaining

19. Auburn-Alabama Game

20. Front porches

21. Back porches

22. Corn on the Cob

23. We have our own way of tawkin'

24. We have our own music

25. More family reunions than any other state

26. Best joke tellers in the world

27. Plenty of elbow room

28. Fried Apple Pie (or peach, or pear, or raisin)

29. People still know how to dress up

30. At every get together there is always someone who can pick a guitar

31. Unlike hum-drum Yankee supper tables, there's no skimping on side dishes

32. Vintage automobiles are given the respect they deserve

33. Highest per capita cosmetic skills in the nation

34. More books and songs written about Alabama than any other state

35. Azaleas

36. Fried Okra

37. Cornbread

38. Farmer's Markets

39. Flea Markets

40. Neighbors rarely come over empty handed

41. If you break down on the side of the road, someone will always stop to help

42. Soda pop brands have colorful names like Nehi and Grapico

43. No part of a pig ever goes to waste

44. Church suppers

45. Citizens generally know the difference between right and wrong

46. Wild Blackberries

47. Bluebirds in the Spring

48. Children use the quaint expressions "Please" and "Thank You"

49. Tent Revivals

50. River Rats

51. People don't generally pass through -- they come to stay

52. Small talk skill level highest in nation

53. Handshakes still effective in business dealings

54. We might fight but we always make up

55. Fishing that borders on religious experience

56. Knowing someone will always hold the door for you

57. 364 day golfing season (every day except Christmas)

58. Palm Trees, Dogwoods, Sycamores, Live Oaks, Fig Trees, Sweet Gums and Magnolias

59. Never a shortage of advice on any subject

60. Traffic laws subject to individual interpretation

61. Central Air

62. Sweet Potato Pie

63. Misty mornings in the mountains

64. Wild Muscadines

65. Dirt Track Racing

66. Family Recipes

67. Sunsets in November

68. Red Tail Hawks

69. Homemade Ice Cream

70. Peach Cobbler

71. Snow flurries on Thanksgiving

72. Heat waves on Thanksgiving

73. No legal limit on quantity of exterior Christmas lights per household

74. There are still people who talk without cussing

75. For those who must cuss, wide array of original expletives available

76. Backyard Gardens

77. Sawmill Gravy

78. Neighborhood block parties

79. Volunteer Fire Departments

80. Mayors who conveniently also sell insurance and used cars

81. Camellias blooming in February

82. 'Nanner Puddin'

83. Mee-maw's Coconut Cake

84. Pa-paw's Tomatoes

85. Folks who know your Mamma and Daddy and their Mammas and Daddies

86. Bluegrass Festivals

87. Going barefoot in March

88. Butterbeans

89. Fried Catfish

90. Certain homemade beverages (sweet tea, lemonade, moonshine, hunch punch).

91. Cockroach species guaranteed to scare the wits out of unsuspecting Yankees

92. High ratio of morning radio shows with hosts named Bubba

93. Siestas on summer afternoons

94. Strangers say hello on the street, and instead of running in the opposite direction, you say hello back

95. Home to one of the seven wonders of the world: the infield at Talladega on race day

96. Misguided national news coverage of state keeps obnoxiously heavy, environmentally damaging tourist traffic to a minimum

97. Children grow up bilingual, speaking both English and Southern

98. State leads the way in culinary presentation of the peanut

99. Women named Velma

100. Men named J.B., J.R., J.D., J.P., J.C., J.T., or J.W

101. You can leave Alabama, but you'll always come back home Y'all have a nice day, now!

Where is it More Dangerous? (Part Two)

I posted what I hoped was a thought-provoking question here a few days ago, "What's more dangerous, a Christian church in Alabama or a Muslim mosque in Iraq?" Unless you have been under a rock and don't pay attention to the news, you know what I was referring to in this question. There have been about ten church arsons in Alabama during the past month. Also, about a week ago, a mosque was bombed in Iraq, which according to the AP at the time, triggered the beginning of a civil war in Iraq. Well, it's a week later and there is still no civil war. Thankfully cooler heads are prevailing for the most part.

It just seems to me that this isn't the first time that the AP has interjected opinions into their headlines that over time have proven false. It seems to me that whoever is responsible for these articles and headlines seems eager to describe our mission in Iraq as a failure. They jump on every potential setback and declare defeat. I don't know what their motivation is for this. It could be that they want something dramatic to write about and to say they got the "scoop". It could simply be an underlying liberal bias and hatred for President Bush and his policies. It could be both. Regardless, it's getting old to me.

The reason I compared the church fires in Alabama to the mosque bombing in Iraq should be obvious. It seems like every negative event reported in Iraq is aimed at proving how unstable they are. I can't help but think there is a little xenophobia going on here as well. Look at America. I love this country and I am proud to be a citizen. But look at our crime rate. Look at our cultural and social problems. Look at our murder rate, crime rate, abortion rate, illegal drug problems, illegal immigration problems, welfare fraud, and the list goes on and on. Then turn around and compare some of our statistics with Iraq.

View some discussion about this topic here.

The United States has been a democratic representative republic for 229 years. You would think that by now we would have a little better social order than we do. Iraq has been a democratic representative republic for about one year. It's scary to me that they are really not that far behind us in many areas and are probably ahead of us in some areas. Would you like to be an American civilian walking down the street in Baghdad? Probably not! What about and Iraqi in Alabama? Probably not much better.

Here's a perfect example from the Birmingham News:

Man of Arab descent shot; suspect held
Saturday, February 25, 2006
TOM GORDONNews staff writer

TUSCALOOSA - A man of Arab descent was in fair condition Friday night after being shot Thursday night by a man who had been yelling racial slurs outside a Middle Eastern takeout restaurant near the University of Alabama campus.

Among those who went to the aid of Nabil Chagri was John Bart Tyra, a Marine Reservist who returned from a tour in Iraq nearly a year ago. Afterward, Tyra said he was sickened by the incident.

"I shed a few tears over it, let's put it that way," said Tyra, a Tuscaloosa resident and a lance corporal in the Bessemer-based 4th Anti-Terrorism Battalion. "It just breaks my heart that that can happen here in the United States."

Friday morning, authorities arrested Jason Michael Gardner, 23, of Northport. He was charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. Gardner was in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on Friday night, with bonds set at $130,000.

The incident happened shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday at the Quick Grill, a small takeout restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern foods. It's situated on a stretch of University Boulevard known as the Strip.

Jassim Madan, a native of the Persian Gulf country of Bahrain, said he has operated the restaurant for about five years.

Madan said he was inside Thursday night when a customer told him a man was urinating on the restaurant. When the man was told to leave, Madan said, the man used a racial slur and slapped one of the restaurant's customers.

"Everybody was trying to control this guy," said Tyra, who had come over with a friend from a nearby bar to order some food and saw the guy yelling racial slurs. "He was causing so much drama. He was being a moron."

The man left but threatened to come back, and ultimately returned alone in his truck with a .22-caliber rifle and began firing at the rear of a van parked behind the restaurant, said Lt. Loyd Baker, commander of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Twenty Ways to Know If You Are a True Alabamian

1. You can properly pronounce Conecuh, Cahaba, Opelika, Sylacauga, Oneonta, and Eufaula.
2. You think people who complain about the heat in their states are sissies.
3. A tornado warning siren is your signal to go out in the yard and look for a funnel.
4. You know that the true value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door, but by the availability of shade.
5. Stores don't have bags or shopping carts, they have sacks and buggies.
6. You've seen people wear bib overalls at funerals.
7. You think everyone from a bigger city has an accent.
8. You measure distance in minutes.
9. You go to the lake because you think it is like going to the ocean.
10. You listen to the weather forecast before picking out an outfit.
11. You know cowpies are not made of beef.
12. Someone you know has used a football schedule to plan their wedding date.
13. You have known someone who has a belt buckle bigger than your fist.
14. You aren't surprised to find movie rental, ammunition, beer, and bait all in the same store.
15. A Mercedes Benz isn't a status symbol. A Chevy Silverado Extended Bed Crew Cab is.
16. You know everything goes better with Ranch Dressing.
17. You learned how to shoot a gun before you learned how to multiply.
18. You actually get these jokes and are "fixin' " to send them to your friends.
19. You have used your heater and air-conditioner in the same day!
Finally: You are 100% Alabamian if you have ever had this conversation:
20. "You wanna coke?" "Yeah." "What kind?" "Dr Pepper."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Where is it More Dangerous?

A Christian church in Alabama or a Muslim mosque in Iraq?

Just a little food for thought...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Port Controversy

The lastest political controversy in Washington is whether a Dubai, United Arab Emirates based company should have the opportunity to assume managerial responsibilities at six US seaports. I am not certain where I stand on this issue yet. I am mainly concerned that people are forming opinions without knowing, or caring about the facts.

Here are some of my questions:

  • Isn't the UAE an ally of the United States in the War on Terror?
  • Is this company responsible for security or loading and unloading?
  • While the company is based in Dubai, where are the workers from?
  • Are there even any American-based companies in this business?
  • How many people have formed their opinions without answers to any of these questions?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Severe Weather Weather Preparedness Week in Alabama

This week (Feb.19-24) is severe weather preparedness week in Alabama. In 2005 there were 77 confirmed tornadoes in Alabama, which set a new record for one year. The active hurricane season was responsible, as 49 of the 77 twisters were spawned by tropical systems. The majority of the state's tornadoes were in Central Alabama. Only two were confirmed in the Huntsville National Weather Service County Warning Area. Hurricane Rita (9/25/05) spawned 23 tornadoes in Alabama, Katrina (8/28-29/05) spawned 10, and Cindy (7/6/05) spawned 16.



Monday, February 20, 2006

More Ice

There was a little more freezing rain in North Alabama last night, as forecast. The precipitation was light, but enough to put a glaze on bridges and overpasses. Here are some photos from my yard.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

George Strait Concert

Last night I took Joe to his first concert. We went to the George Strait concert in Birmingham. It was really cool. Joe is a fan of "real" country. His favorite artist is Alan Jackson, but he likes George Strait, too. My favorite song of the night was "The Best Day". I will attach the lyrics below and you will probably figure out why.

We loaded up my old station wagon With a tent, a Coleman and sleepin' bags. Some fishin' poles, a cooler of Cokes, Three days before we had to be back.

When you're seven you're in seventh heaven When you're goin' campin' in the wild outdoors. As we turned off on that old dirt road He looked at me and swore...

Dad, this could be the best day of my life. I've been dreamin' day and night about the fun we'll have. Just me and you doin' what I've always wanted to. I'm the luckiest boy alive, This is the best day of my life.

His fifteenth birthday rolled around, Classic cars were his thing. When I pulled in the drive with that old Vette I thought that boy would go insane.

When you're in your teens Your dreams revolve around four spinnin' wheels. We worked nights on end 'till it was new again, And as he sat behind the wheel he said,

Dad, this could be the best day of my life. I've been dreamin' day and night about the fun we've had. Just me and you doin' what I've always wanted to. I'm the luckiest boy alive This is the best day of my life.

Standin' in a little room back of the church with our tuxes on, Lookin' at him I say, I can't believe, son that you've grown. He said,

Dad, this could be the best day of my life. I've been dreamin' day and night of bein' like you. Now it's me and her, Watchin' you and mom I've learned, I'm the luckiest man alive, This is the best day of my life.

I'm the luckiest man alive, This is the best day of my life.


We didn't quite have the ice that was expected this weekend, but we had some. Below is a photo of Matthew taken in Huntsville Saturday afternoon while it was sleeting. Last night's low was around 15 in North Alabama, which was the coldest night so far this winter.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ice Problems This Weekend?

I am concerned about the possibility of a significant ice storm across parts of the South this weekend. I am not going to fall into the trap of being too specific yet. I will say that I think the best chance for ice is in Arkansas and Tennessee. Latest model runs seem to indicate temperatures will be colder than previously thought. Anyone in North Alabama should pay very close attention to the weather, especially Saturday and Saturday night. It's probably hard to believe, I know, after such a beautiful day today. Our high today was 70 in Vinemont and at 8:30 p.m. it's still 62. this will all change, though, after the cold front passes through. Tonight at 7:00 in Little Rock, AR it was 69 but up the road in Fayetteville, AR it was 33. More to come.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Today I am starting a new blog and I have invited a friend, Tom Windsor to join me. The new blog is at http://biblestudyblogger.blogspot.com/. If we can keep it going I may ask others to join as contributors as well. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

How would you feel if someone took money from you, without you having any direct say in the matter? It would anger most people. But what if you learned that the money was given to someone in need, such as someone who lost everything except the shirt off their back in Hurricane Katrina? You might still be angry, but you would probably feel a little better, at least thinking that you helped someone in desperate need, even if it was involuntarily. What if you found out the next year that it was all a lie, that the money was really used to buy someone a tattoo, condoms, a handgun, or an engagement ring. My guess is that you would be more angry than you were in the first place. Well, if you read, watched, or listened to the news lately you might have learned that this did, in essence, happen to you! That is, if you could get past the stories about Vice President Cheney's hunting accident!

Government officials testified before Congress that thousands of individuals misused Social Security numbers. FEMA also made payments to people using false addresses. Debit cards were used for adult entertainment, tattoos, bail bond services, $400 massages, a $450 tattoo, $150 worth of condom products, gambling, a 45-caliber handgun for $1,300, and a diamond engagement ring for $1,100. It has been reported that 10,777 trailers meant to house evacuees are stuck in the mud and unusable because they are in a flood zone and are not allowed to be used in that location by law. The Wall Street Journal has reported that $250,000 has been spent per evacuee household and that 900,000 out of 2.5 million applicants for aid received aid using invalid Social Security numbers, false names, and false addresses.

It almost makes me wish that I lived in New Orleans prior to Katrina. I would have a nice house and a Hummer in the garage!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Congratulations to the 2005 Chicago White Sox. It took 88 years, but they finally won that elusive World Series last October. I am not a big Sox fan but I was glad to see them win it. I've always been a Braves fan. But in baseball there are several teams that I like (Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, and others). To me, baseball is a lot different, say, than college football. In football, I don't care too much about anyone besides Alabama. I guess in baseball you go into the season expecting to lose at least 60 games during the course of a year. In college football, one loss can eliminate you from the hunt for the National Championship. Anyway, President Bush, a former partner-owner of the Texas Rangers, was in his element in today's meeting with the Sox. "I got a first-hand report from the World Series from two people I love dearly who had actually front-row seats, and that would be my mother and father. I'm not going to tell you who they were rooting for, but it didn't have much effect on the outcome of the series, I'll put it to you that way. I was impressed as a baseball guy -- at least somebody who follows it still, closely -- that you had four complete games in a row in the playoffs. That's a good strategy, Jerry, to keep the bullpen -- (laughter) -- keep the bullpen fresh."

You can read the entire transcript here.
As amazing as the snow in New York City was, it pales in comparison to the weather seen somewhere much closer to home. As of 7:30 this morning there was 41" of snow on the ground at Mt. Leconte in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. According to the National Weather Service, yesterday's high there was 10 above and this morning's low was 4 above zero. There is a web cam at Look Rock in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that provides a view of Mt. Leconte in the distance.

Update 2/14/06: James Spann posted some photos taken by one of his readers here on the ABC 33/40 Weather Blog.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

New York City had a blizzard today of historic proportions. Snowfall was measured at 26.9" in Central Park as of 4:10 this afternoon. This broke the all time record of 26.4" that has stood since December 26-27, 1947. Truly amazing.

I may add more here later. I have been under the weather, but I'm feeling a little better.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

One inch of snow fell tonight in Vinemont between 6:30 and 7:30. Here are some photos.

Snow fell in Lacon in extreme south Morgan County at about 5:45.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Thursday night I took David and Joe to the Homewood High School auditorium for ABC 33/40's 2006 Storm Alert Tour. Matt had to stay with his Mom because he was still running a fever. As always we had a good time and learned more about the weather. One of my favorite segments was James Spann's look back at the March 1932 outbreak and his interview with a surviver of one of the tornadoes in Chilton County. I also enjoyed talking with Jason Simpson who is from Cullman County. Here are some photos from the event.

James Spann, John Oldshue

Jason Simpson, James, John

James, Jason, Brian Peters, David

James, Jason, Brian, John, Pam Huff, David, Joe

Brian, John, Joe

John, David

David and Joe

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Today I'm at home with a sick child. Matt has a fever of 101. I pray he'll get better quickly. We've been watching more Disney than ever. The Wiggles, Rollie Polie Olie, etc.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Here's a photo of Paul and his band performing "Helter Skelter" captured from the CBS telecast of the Grammys tonight.

I'm watching the Grammys tonight. Man, this is a music lover's dream. My favorite artist, Paul McCartney, performed on the Grammys for the first time ever. He's been at it for almost 50 years and this is his first performance on the Grammys? Get outta here! He performed "Fine Line" from his latest album, "Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard" and "Helter Skelter" from the Beatles 1968 "White Album". If you have a broad interest in music like me, this was awesome. Hope to post more later.

Here's a review from the Buffalo News.
Morgan County District Court Judge David Bibb has announced his retirement. Judge Bibb has been on the bench for 25 years. I have worked with Judge Bibb for about half of that time. The things I admire most about Judge Bibb are his work ethic, his fairness, and his compassion. He has kept us in court as late as 6 p.m. or even later; whatever it took to get the job done. He also was very fair. It didn't matter if a person was a pauper or a millionaire, Judge Bibb simply applied the law to the facts of the case. Judge Bibb would take extra time to make certain that people understood what was going on. He would cut through the legalese and do his best to help people understand. Here is a really good article on Judge Bibb from the Decatur Daily.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I couldn't resist posting this. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I cannot remember the last time a U.S. Senator dressed down another Senator like this, especially with the sarcasm!

John McCain's letter to Barack Obama

Barack Obama's Letters to McCain
Last night I had a dream. I don't have many dreams, or at least I don't remember them if I do. I dreamed I was hanging out with Billy Graham. Some of the details are fuzzy, but I do remember snippets of the dream real well.

He was driving me around St. Louis. He was trying to get me somewhere in the area around the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium. Until I realized he didn't hear real well, he kept missing turns because I wasn't speaking loud enough. I remember getting out of the car and walking around with him. I was surprised at his ability to get around, which was about as good as mine. He jumped off a step that was about three feet down and I remember thinking that I really didn't want to do that, but I didn't want to be put to shame either.

We met people from all walks of life. He could strike up a conversation with anyone about any topic. People seemed to be mesmerized by his conversation. It seemed that no matter what the topic was, it naturally flowed into an opportunity for him to share the Gospel with people.

It was a cool dream! I am not claiming and I do not know if any of it resembles the real Billy Graham or not, but it was a neat experience. I guess I will be praying for the real Rev. Billy Graham today.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The 2006 Super Bowl is over and today, the day after, more was said about the commercials and halftime entertainment than the game itself. Pittsburgh defeated Shaun Alexander and the Seattle Seahawks. Nothing against Pittsburgh, but I really was hoping Alabama graduate Shaun Alexander's team would win.

I've been listening to the Paul Finebaum sports talk show in the afternoons. I heard more talk about the Rolling Stones performance in the halftime show than talk about the game itself. That's fine with me. As much as I like sports, I'm not a huge NFL fan.

There seems to be a lot of criticism of the Stones. I'm not even a huge Stones fan, but I think they were very entertaining. Notice what I didn't say, "they were very entertaining for their age." I could have said that, but I intentionally did not. I really enjoyed their performance.

Now I will talk about their age. I grew up thinking that Keith Richards looked like he had one foot in the grave even 25 years ago. Somehow these guys have held on and are still going strong. I suppose (and hope) that maybe they have lightened up or quit the drugs. As a 40-year-old, I must admit that I wouldn't be able to strut around the stage as well as Mick Jagger did at age 62.

Paul McCartney's performance at last year's Super Bowl was better. I admit, though, that I'm biased. The Beatles/Stones rivalry goes back more than 40 years. I've always been partial to Paul.

Before you laugh, somebody tell me which 20 year old performer from 2006 will be entertaining at Super Bowl 80!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The snow watch has begun in Cullman County. Radar shows precipitation that is not yet reaching the ground. The temperature is 33.8 and the dewpoint is 23.3 at 11:05 p.m.

Update on Monday February 6, 2006: The forecast for about one inch of snow for parts of North Alabama was a total bust. The temperature rose from 32 degrees around 8 pm to about 36 degrees Monday morning. We may have had a little sleet while I was asleep, but no accumulations.

Snow fans, don't give up hope, though. I still think that there is a good chance something will happen in February. If not, you can always go visit Buffalo, NY and enjoy the lake effect snow there!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Saturday the boys and I visited Turner Field in Atlanta for the Braves Winter FanFest. It was a cold day but they had a really good time. They got to meet centerfielder Andruw Jones and pitcher Macay McBride and get their autographs. They also played in "Tooner Field", ran the bases, got their face airbrushed, pitched and batted in the cages, and David even asked a question in a "press conference" with Braves pitchers John Thompson, Joey Devine, and announcer Joe Simpson. David took the mic and asked them whether Braves Pitcher Jorge Sosa was related to Sammy Sosa. Leave it to David to find a way to work Sammy Sosa into a question for Braves players. Anyway John Thompson said he didn't think that Jorge was related to Sammy but he didn't really didn't know for sure.

Matthew, Scooby Doo, Joseph, David

David, Johnny Bravo, Matthew, Joe

David, Matt, Joe

Joe with the 1995 World Series Trophy

David and one of the Powder Puff Girls

Matt, Joe, and David

Pitcher John Thompson, Announcer Joe Simpson, Relief Pitcher Joey Devine

David in the 3rd Base Dugout

Joe and Andruw Jones

Andruw Jones

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tonight I will comment on another item from the President's "State of the Union" address.

"Year after year, Americans are burdened by an archaic, incoherent federal tax code. I have appointed a bipartisan panel to examine the tax code from top to bottom. And when their recommendations are delivered, you and I will work together to give this nation a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all. " - President Bush

I certainly agree with President Bush's description of our tax system. Without a panel, I could give you a better system. Back in the 1996 Republican Primaries, I remember Steve Forbes was the man with the plan. Speaking of the current income tax system, he said we should scrap it, destroy it, and bury it, and replace it with a flat tax. There are things I like about the flat tax, and some things about it that are not perfect, but it is better than the current system. There have been other proposals, too, that might even be better, such as a national sales tax that excludes food and other necessities. The bottom line: Almost any system would be better than the one we have now.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Last night President Bush delivered the annual "State of the Union" address. I plan on commenting on some excerpts, beginning tonight.

"A young woman in Baghdad told of waking to the sound of mortar fire on election day, and wondering if it might be too dangerous to vote. She said: "Hearing those explosions, it occurred to me the insurgents are weak, they are afraid of democracy, they are losing. So I got my husband, and I got my parents, and we all came out and voted together." 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. One of Iraq's leading democracy and human rights advocates is Safia Taleb al-Suhail. She says of her country: "We were occupied for 35 years by Saddam Hussein. That was the real occupation. Thank you to the American people who paid the cost, but most of all to the soldiers." Eleven years ago, Safia's father was assassinated by Saddam's intelligence service. 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." - President Bush

Agree or disagree with the war in Iraq, this should make any American proud. Our nation is distinct from any other nation that I know of in history. I can't think of any other nations that fought wars, not to acquire territory and colonize, but rather to liberate and promote self-rule.

I am proud of what we are accomplishing. I truly believe that when people get a taste of freedom and representative government, the will embrace it. This is a new concept to the Iraqi people. I am amazed at the degree to which they have succeeded, in a relatively short time. It took Germany and Japan many years to become self-sustaining representative republics. I believe that freedom will, in time, win the day in Iraq. No, our nation is far from perfect, but we are generally a force for good in the world.

I am also proud of the courage of Iraqis who indeed showed by voting and participating despite threats to their lives. I hate to admit it but I would say that I don't think that Americans would vote in those numbers if they were under a similar threat. As soon as I say that, though, I remember that the truth is that we don't vote in those numbers now, without the threat of violence. In that regard, the Iraqis put many of us in America to shame.