Black boots

John McCaslin
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Posted: Nov 13, 2003 12:00 AM

Black Americans were singled out on Veterans Day - their service to the nation beginning with the Revolutionary War, when 5,000 fought for independence.

Many filled boats on Christmas night in 1776 and crossed the Delaware River with George Washington, notes Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), going on to fight in the War of 1812, the Civil War (23 blacks were awarded Medals of Honor for bravery and gallantry fighting Confederates), the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II (more than 1 million blacks were in uniform, one of the most famous being Dorie Miller, a steward aboard the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, who saw his captain fall, pulled him to safety, manned a machine gun, and downed several Japanese planes), Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Gulf war, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, to name many.

INTERNATIONAL GUARD

President Bush this week realized firsthand how many men and women of the National Guard are off serving their country in the war against terrorism.

While touring the BMW Manufacturing Corp. in Greer, S.C., Bush learned that 26 of the plant's employees are currently stationed in Iraq.

'CAMPLAIGNERS'

"My husband, Ed Bradley Jr., has coined a new word to describe the current field of (Democratic) candidates in the presidential election: Camplaigning," writes Dari Bradley, of Niceville, Fla.

IDENTIFY AND HOBBLE

Terrorists should have no problem identifying thousands of Americans working in the homeland security field.

Marketer Edith Roman Associates has introduced a new file, "Homeland Security Executives," which lists 335,844 names, phone numbers and business addresses. The list includes officials in the public and private sectors who play a role in responding to emergencies and disseminating information, from government and school personnel to medical workers and biologists.

JOB FRONTIERS

Where are the best places to work in federal government?

According to 100,000 federal employees who answered an Office of Personnel Management survey, here are the top 10 federal agencies of 28 Cabinet departments and nearly 200 subagencies:

1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

2. National Science Foundation

3. Office of Management and Budget

4. General Services Administration

5. Environmental Protection Agency

6. Office of Personnel Management

7. Air Force

8. Department of Interior

9. Department of Commerce

10. Department of the Army

This "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" ranking is developed by the Partnership for Public Service and American University.

AMATEUR LEADERS

Not happy of late with "the venting of frustration" by leaders on the minority side, Sen. Mitch McConnell reminds Democrats of the hallowed and historic halls in which they serve.

"I suggest it is unworthy of the Senate when those in it - members of the Senate - fail to heed to the role of this body, which is to provide cool, reasoned and less passionate judgment as we do the people's business," says the Kentucky Republican.

He calls attention to "callow, petulant characterizations" directed of late at Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, including the term "amateur."

How does one cool the Democratic rhetoric?

"When the Constitution was written, Thomas Jefferson was away in France," McConnell notes. "He wrote George Washington asking him to explain the function of the Senate. Jefferson understood the role of the House to be a place of great passion and quick reaction, but he wasn't quite sure what this Senate was going to be like.

"So Washington used a Southern analogy of drinking tea, where folks in those days would pour the hot tea down into the saucer, let it cool, and then pour it back into the cup. Washington suggested that the Senate was the cooling saucer - a place where things cooled off - of this new federal government they were creating, where the heated passions that might bubble over could cool down.

"That," says McConnell, "is the way the Senate has worked for over 200 years."

WHEN IN NOME

Way up north in Alaska, the Nome Chamber of Commerce was hosting a social event Tuesday night for the Alaska Municipal League's mayoral conference when a concerned party stepped forward and asked whether security should be alerted to an unidentified person who had entered a closed section of the building.

It turned out there was no problem and no extra security was called. The person in question was simply one of Washington's finest, ensuring the safety of the conference's keynote speaker - Washiington, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

"Although mayoral security escorts are almost unheard of in Alaska, let alone Nome, Mayor Williams and his security detail are great ambassadors for D.C. and we are happy to host them in the Gold Rush City," Graham G. Storey, executive director of the Nome Chamber of Commerce, told this column.

MUM'S THE WORD

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) took to the floor Wednesday (Nov. 12) to reflect on the role of the speaker in the modern House of Representatives.

He cited principles of previous speakers such as Joseph Cannon, who led the House with "iron power"; Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, who negotiated with "Irish charm"; and Sam Rayburn, who "ruled for a generation."

"Each used their principles to guide them in times of great challenge," Hastert noted. As for the current speaker's principles?

"I learned that keeping your word is the most important part of this job. You are better off not saying anything than making a promise that you cannot keep," he said.

CAREER-MINDED

Only a few months ago, legendary newspaperman and syndicated columnist Irv Kupcinet invited Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to a luncheon he'd hosted every Saturday at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

"Kup," as the senator calls him, was in a wheelchair, yet there were a dozen silver-haired gentleman crowded around the table - "friends of Kup for a lifetime."

"I was the youngest at the table by at least 20 years. I listened as they regaled me with stories of America and Chicago, of sports, of horse racing, entertainment - everything that had made Kup's life."

The Chicago Sun-Times columnist died this week at 91, but not before experiencing almost everything life had to offer.

He said he knew as a child he'd become a newspaperman, but waited until a shoulder injury ended his first professional football season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent more than 55 years with the Chicago Sun-Times, his column appearing in more than 100 newspapers nationwide.

Kup also hosted a syndicated television show, his interviews with the likes of Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X and Richard Nixon garnering a dozen Emmy awards. He broadcast countless Chicago Bears football games - that is when he wasn't officiating for the NFL. And when not busy with all that he appeared in Hollywood films, two being "Advise and Consent" and "Anatomy of a Murder." No wonder they renamed the Wabash Avenue bridge over the Chicago River in his honor.

MR. INTELLIGENCE

President Bush plans to appoint Patrick Marshall Hughes, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as assistant secretary for the new Department of Homeland Security. Before directing the DIA for some four years, Hughes served as director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff, director of Intelligence for U.S. Central Command, and commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency.