When Defense Secretary James Mattis learned he had escaped an assassination attempt while he was a Marine Corps general during the Iraq War, he did something unexpected that showed why he is one of the most beloved and respected members of President Donald Trump’s administration.
He went to talk to the would-be assassin after learning the man could speak English.
According to an Associated Press report, Mattis offered the insurgent a cigarette and coffee, and asked him why he tried to kill him. The man told Mattis he resented American soldiers in his land.
The general told the insurgent he understood the sentiment and then assured him he was headed for the prison in Abu Ghraib.
What happened next was a surprise.
The man then reportedly asked Mattis, “If I am a model prisoner, do you think someday I could emigrate to America?”
For Mattis, the question showed that the man felt the “power of America’s inspiration,” the AP reported.
The defense secretary told the story during a series of visits with U.S. forces just before Christmas, according to the news agency.
“I bring this up to you, my fine young sailors, because I want you to remember that on our worst day we’re still the best going, and we’re counting on you to take us to the next level,” Mattis said.
“We’ve never been satisfied with where America’s at. We’re always prone to looking at the bad things, the things that aren’t working right. That’s good. It’s healthy, so long as we then roll up our sleeves and work together, together, together, to make it better,” he said.
AP reporter Robert Burns wrote that Mattis is a storyteller, and his stories illustrate the “deeper meaning of military service.” Many of his stories also emphasize the importance of every member of our military.
But this particular story also highlighted the American exceptionalism that is recognized around the world.
It is an idea that’s worth fighting for and protecting — regardless of what left-wing socialists would have us believe.
Even the insurgent who was caught planting bombs in an attempt to assassinate Mattis understood what it means to live in America.
When speaking in December at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mattis told members of the military that our country needed them.
He is right about that. We do need our military for many reasons, and it is good to know that Mattis takes the time to remind soldiers of this when he visits with them.
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