Bush to mother: Don't sell on eBay

by Mark Silva
Chicago Tribune
Jun. 03, 2007

Several mothers who have lost children at war in Iraq took part in a new talk show today on National Public Radio.

One of them, Elaine Johnson, recounted a meeting that she had with President Bush in which he gave her a presidential coin and told her and five other families: "Donít go sell it on eBay.Ē

An excerpt from the interview on NPR's Tell Me More can be heard here.

The president told her that the war goes on because the U.S. has "a mission'' to complete. But Johnson says she has discovered her own mission now: Fighting to bring the troops home.

Host Michael Martin asked Johnson: "What about you? Why did you decide to start speaking out? ''

"My son was killed November 2, 2003,'' Johnson said. "After they had my sonís memorial in Colorado Springs -- thatís Fort Carson -- I was interviewed by the Gazette Newspaper, and that started it all.

"They said they had a mother or a person to ever lashed out at the president, criticize the president of being insensitive,'' she said. "So a couple of days after that they called me and said that President Bush would like to meet me. And I said well okay, only at his cost because I was not spending my money to meet him.''

"So he flew about a hundred families back to Fort Carson,'' she recalled.

"And in the room that I was in it was only me and four more other families. And I asked him questions you know, on um why we were over there? He couldnít answer that. I said, well what are we fighting for? He said to finish a mission.

"I said, why was my son and the rest of the soldiers on the Chinook helicopter, which was supposed to be only to transport cargos not humans? He said, well he didnít know. He referred me to General Wilson, which was in the same room. General Wilsonís response was that they, you know, they was transporting them on that same helicopter and never was shot down.

"They flew over Fallujah; Fallujah was always the hot spot. Common sense would've tell them, if you fly them over Fallujah, you should have escorts that has the equipment to detect these weapons that would attack the plane.

"But you know, they so brilliant, they up there in D.C., now, that a mother with a high school diploma can sit down and day, okay, now I wonít send them over a hot spot without protection.

"President Bush, he just didnít see that, and he told me I was kind of, seemed like I was kind of hostile. I said, Ďyes I am hostile, because you sent my son over there.í So my thing is -- all the questions that I asked him, he didnít know nothing then, and he definitely donít know nothing now, because the United States is in worser shape now that it was in 2003 that my son died.''

Martin asked: "So when you left that meeting did you leave with determination to do something or did that happen over time?''

Johnson said: "When he told me -- I said whatís, whatís the mission? He couldnít give me an answer. I says, well Iím going to tell you what: Iím on my mission now. My mission had just begun. And my mission is to fight to bring these troops home, to take care of these troops when they get home.

"Then he gave us a presidential coin,'' she said. "Now you check this out: He gave six of us a presidential coin, tell us not to tell the rest of the people that was there, and then after that he told us donít go sell it on eBay. Now you tell me how insensitive that can be? What kind of caring person is that?''

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