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...holding Memorial Day observances. That was the message given to me and over 200 other participants in a listening session held by Republican senator and war supporter Lisa Murkowski on May 30, 2006.
From 4:30 â€“ 6:30pm, Senator Murkowski listened to 36 speakers, all but one who opposed our continued occupation of Iraq. She appeared calm and attentive throughout even though about four speakers were crazy lefties even by my standards. The overwhelming majority were not though. They were respectful in their dissent and questioned the costs and motivations of the war. Only one or two of the speakers criticized our military efforts in Afghanistan and all supported more reconstruction and humanitarian aid for Iraq. None wanted to simply abandon the Iraqi people, only to restructure how we are trying to help them.
I am happy to report that the one speaker who spoke in support of our continued occupation was given applause and a respectful hearing from the audience. His name was David Summers and he is a small businessman and reservist who expects to be deployed to Iraq a few weeks from now. (May God bless and keep you Mr. Summers.)
In many ways, Senator Murkowski represents what is best about Alaska. She understands that while we may have sharp disagreements, her constituents are all Alaskans and Americans and their loyalty and patriotism are beyond question. She does not write off those constituents who do not belong to her party. It is an example that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle should emulate.
At the conclusion of the listening session, Senator Murkowski mentioned that the day before she had participated in a Memorial Day service in Kenai. Then she said "This forum was no less patriotic than what we had yesterday. If you don't believe me, look up the May 31 issue of the Juneau Empire (registration required).
Hopefully she will take that message to her colleagues and Messrs Cheney and Rumsfeld, who still make comments equating dissent with the treason code phrase "aid and comfort to the enemy."
I did not speak at the listening session myself, but I did provide a written statement, which I will post in the next Politics Thursday.
If your Member of Congress had a similar listening session, please journal about it.