I was wrong, as the abrupt departure from Afghanistan is showing us. We feel vulnerable again behind a weak leader, vulnerable to mushrooming groups of terrorists, whereas Bush was strong and we felt protected by our military after that fateful day in late 2001.
这些年来, Bush showed me this strength in unexpected ways when he allowed me to ride along with the wounded war fighters over tough terrain (initially in Palo Duro Canyon in the 105 degree heat and later on his ranch in Crawford, 德州) 从 2012 至 2019 during the Warrior 100K Mountain Bike rides. His strength and toughness were always personal, one on one with his vets.
He rode up front on the trails because he was a very good rider, not because anyone was pandering. And no one was in awe of him, he was one of them.
Though I have interviewed him multiple times and come to know him for the tough yet gentle leader he was, it was never about him. It was always about the vets, about helping them overcome all hurdles (physical and metaphysical) from the war to return to the new normal.
He was greatly concerned about the invisible wounds of war, post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, that are just as afflicting as any physical wounds. And he treated these heroes with respect, as equals, as though they had lost a visible limb.
They shared this regard among themselves, and it lifted them up, whether they were active duty or reserve or retired. If one fell, others helped him or her back on the bike, indeed, “getting back on the bike” was more than just metaphorical.