While politicians and their media fellow travelers in this election season casually aid and abet the enemy with their self-important mud slinging and finger pointing, everyday Americans in both the blue states and the red states are rolling up their sleeves and pitching in. Their angel in the mainstream press is The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger, who talked about The Spirit of America project last night on PBS's "Nightly Business Report." We missed the show but found a transcript of his commentary in our e-mail box this morning, compliments of Spirit of America founder, Jim Hake. Reading it made us flush with joy at the goodness of the people of this great land of ours. Like Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, it stopped us in our tracks:
I wrote a column recently for the Wall Street Journal about the war in Iraq. This is the war we see on television every night. The war that people on television argue about every night. By now everyone is either for this war -- or hates and opposes it.
My column wasn't about the right or wrong. It was about a remarkable group called Spirit of America -- started by a businessman in California named Jim Hake. Jim found out the American GI's in Iraq had rebuilding projects for which the U.S. bureaucracy is ill-equipped to help them. Small stuff. Like supplies for schools and medical clinics.
The Spirit of America project I wrote about was an effort to raise money here to equip 7 small TV stations over there. Marines would rebuild the stations and turn them over to Iraqi cooperatives.
Now, I'm not here to ask for money but to try to make sense of what happened after the column. The response was huge. Given a chance to help the Marines in a nonmilitary way, thousands gave money. Why?
Partly I think it's the weird media age we live in. The closer events like this war are brought to us every night, the more disconnected they seem from our daily lives. In World War Two we had a homefront. People helped in small ways. Today, we just sit home, staring helplessly at the soldiers on TV.
This little project -- to build Iraqi TV stations -- didn't just open American wallets. It opened American hearts. It gave folks a chance to get off their hands and touch those American GI's.
Support the war or oppose it. We'd be a better people if we had more chances like this to extend a helping hand to our men and women in Iraq.
Jim's e-mail also brought this good news:
The impact of Henniger's column was augmented mightily by the relatively unsung efforts of bloggers and by many of you forwarding messages to friends and families.
Here are the results. Overwhelming. Incredible. In the last five days we have received $764,408 from 4,088 donors. Most of these funds are earmarked for the request made by the Marines for equipment needed to establish Iraqi-owned television stations in Al Anbar Province Iraq. Our initial goal for this request was $100,000. The Marines are as stunned as I am. I'll remove the expletives of joyful surprise and forward some of their comments to you next week.
We've already made our contribution through The Victory Coalition, where rival groups of bloggers are vying for the privilege and honor of raising the most for our troops. We encourage our readers to roll up their sleeves and pitch in.