Thursday, February 03, 2005

Slain Marine's Mom: Hug Wasn't Staged

As reported by

The mother of a Marine who died liberating Iraq and who provided the emotional high point of Wednesday night's State of the Union Address when she hugged a grateful Iraqi voter sitting in the gallery, denied Thursday morning that the unforgettable episode had been staged, as several left-leaning commentators have alleged.

Appearing with her husband, Bill, on ABC's "Good Morning America," Janet Norwood, mother of Sgt. Byron Norwood, was asked by host Diane Sawyer whether the embrace was pre-planned. The exchange went like this:

SAWYER: It was such a moving moment for everyone, including clearly the president, in the room last night. Safia al-Suhail, whose father had been killed under Saddam, and who had held up her finger with ink on it to show she had voted for the first time in her life, was sitting in front of you.
First, did you know she would be there? And did you know you were going to lean over [and hug her]?

MRS. NORWOOD: No. We had no idea who was going to be there. We met as we went in the door [to the gallery]. She turned around and introduced herself. I asked her if her finger was purple and she held it up and showed me that it was. And I just grabbed her finger.

It would have made our son so proud to see the success of elections in Iraq.

MR. NORWOOD: We didn't know about her dad until something was mentioned. But it certainly enhanced our opinion of her. She was a very, very fine person.

MRS. NORWOOD: She thanked us for our son's sacrifice and made sure we knew that the people of Iraq were grateful for the sacrifices that were made, not just by our son, but by all of them.

SAWYER: And what did you say to her?

MRS. NORWOOD: I just told her how happy we were that the elections were successful and told her that our son would have been pleased.

MR. NORWOOD: Byron really believed that the Iraqi people deserved a chance to take ownership of the concept of freedom. And they certainly proved that they can do that now. So he would have been very pleased.