My colleague (translation: "boss") Rich Lowry - editor of National Review - received a note from the father of a Marine fighting in Fallujah. In it the proud father recounted what his son had told him. Many residents of that besieged town left bedding for the Marines and soldiers, along with notes thanking them for liberating their town from the terrorists and inviting them to sleep in their homes if necessary.
Every day, I receive wonderful, uplifting, heart-wrenching e-mails from Marines and soldiers or their families with similar stories of Iraqis expressing their gratitude and relief that the Americans are doing the hard work of democracy and decency (the latter being vastly more important than the former). I also receive - or read on obscure Internet sites - astounding tales of courage and sacrifice by America's Finest. But we hear so very little of it from the media. Our debates, our discussions - our very understanding of the war - is derived from the bad news: pictures of a Marine allegedly shooting an unarmed man, car bombs, beheadings, the Abu Ghraib fiasco, the idiotic chirpings of the French government and the griping of corrupt UN officials.
But, if you're still with me, this isn't a column about media bias and anti-war carping. There's plenty of time for all of that throughout the rest of the year. No, since Thanksgiving is here it only seems appropriate to point to a larger lesson and a greater reason to give thanks.
Of course, I am Thankful for everything our troops have done and are doing (and if you are, too, you should send a care package or phone card via the USO or several of the other programs: operationgratitude.com, ustroopcarepackage.com, etc.).
But there is a bigger picture that gets lost in our focus on the negative. This is a wonderful, decent nation, brimming with millions of people who take people as they find them and do what is right because that is their character. Moreover, the United States is chock-a-block with institutions, customs and, most of all, families that encourage and foster good character as an end in itself
Because our culture is so obsessed with self-improvement and self-correction, we tend to lose sight of this fact. The squeaky wheels get greased, and we ignore the smooth-running ones.