Column: One person’s leadership shouldn’t be enough to lead to war

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 27, 2003

Yes, you could say, &uot;like a needle in a haystack.&uot; You could say that about a number of items in my house, and it’s not a large book. About six inches long, as I remember, and maybe four or four-and-a-half inches wide. It has a beautiful brick-colored cover. Not that faded-looking orange brick, you understand, but a deep, reddish-looking brick color.

It’s in good condition, too, for being 74 years old. I bought it with my own money, my first year of junior high, on the recommendation of Sarah Jane Whitten, the seventh-grade history teacher. It cost 75 cents, which in this day and age seems reasonable, if not downright cheap. Most books back then only cost 50 cents, and it was my own money.

The book was all about the Constitution. Miss Whitten was gung-ho about the Constitution. Before we left her class, any one of us could have recited all the then-existing amendments from the first 10 (Bill of Rights) right straight through.

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Two or three nights before I started writing this I listened to a TV news show where I heard that a group of anti-war protesters were filing suit against the president because only Congress is supposed to declare war.

It was quite an interesting program. Jerry Falwell was there, and one of my favorite Americans, the attorney, Gary Spence.

The Rev. Mr. Falwell said the president was a great leader, who prayed often and sought direction from God. Gary Spence said that over half the population in Iraq consisted of children 15 years old and under. He wondered where in the Bible President Bush found his justification for making war on children.

He also said that when the founding fathers made the rule about the Congress joined with the president in putting the country at war, it was to maintain a balance of power.

&uot;For,&uot; said Spence, &uot;When two powers decide to declare war, you have a democracy. When one man, alone, decides the country will go to war you have a dictatorship.&uot;

It was at that point I decided to start looking for the little brick-colored book. Miss Whitten was an excellent history teacher. She tied much of what we studied in with the Constitution.

Although it’s been so many years ago, I can still remember the paragraph in my history book dealing with the entrance of the United States into World War I. Following the sinking of the Lusitania, &uot;A long-suffering president threw patience to the winds and asked Congress for a declaration of war.&uot;

I remember, too, that after Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war.

If we declared war on Vietnam, I don’t remember it. It seems to me that for several presidents now we’ve been engaged in unconstitutional wars. I hope it’s not because our congressmen are afraid to take a stand.

Ever since I discovered how inadequate I am in bringing order into my own household I’ve been a bit reluctant to make much of a stand on public issues. I am so strongly against engaging in a war against a country that has not attacked us, though, that I feel it would be cowardly, if not downright immoral, to keep silent.

This does not mean that I cast aspersions on our president’s leadership. Those who know him far better than I ever shall praise him for his qualities of leadership. I’d not be denying their judgment.

The problem I have is that I tend to think about those strange little creatures, the lemmings. I think of them running, running, down hills, through underbrush, down to the sea to keep their rendezvous with death. Hundreds of them, thousands of them!

Leading this suicidal journey, I suppose, foremost in the exit to the sea, is probably the lemming with the greatest gift of leadership.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.