President George W. and Laura Bush’s Hospital Salute to a Soldier Injured in the Terrorist Crash into the Pentagon-Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
The account of a visit by President and Mrs. Bush to the Washington Burn Center shortly after the terrorist attack of a hijacked jetliner at the Pentagon. According to the story, Mrs. Bush visited in the room of Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell, who was badly burned in the Pentagon crash. She greeted Birdwell and his wife warmly then said there was someone else who wanted to see him. In walked the president. After asking how he was doing, the President saluted Birdwell and held the salute until Birdwell very slowly and painfully returned it.
Reporter Donna McGuire of the Kansas City star has interviewed the Birdwells and wrote an extensive article about it. It was published on December 9, 2001.
According to the article, Birdwell was so badly injured and in so much pain that he looked forward to surgeries because he knew he would be unconscious.
After spending a few moments in Birdwell’s room, President Bush turned and initiated a salute to Birdwell. Normally, a salute to the president is initiated by a junior officer and is held until the president drops his salute.
McGuire wrote, “Stopping at the foot of Birdwell’s bed, the president snapped to attention and saluted…Birdwell
struggled to lift his severely burned arm and hand to his forehead, and he didn’t have the strength to hold it long.”
The president’s arm stayed still.
“He held his salute,” recalled Birdwell, “out of respect
This is a small, but true story to give you an idea of the kind of
man and the kind of woman we have in the White House right now.
As you may know, the President and Mrs. Bush visited the Washington
Burn Center on Friday 14 September. Among those they visited was Lt.
Col. Brian Birdwell, who was badly burned in the Pentagon attack.
Mrs. Bush went into Brian’s room, spoke to him for about a minute,
all the time as if they had been life-long acquaintances. She then
turned to Brian’s wife Mel, who at this time had been at the
hospital for probably 2 1/2 days, and apparently, according to Mel
herself, was dirty, grimy and had blood on her shirt.
Mrs. Bush hugged Mel for what Mel said seemed like an eternity, just
as if Mel were one of her closest family members.
Mrs. Bush then told Brian and Mel that there was “someone” there to
The President then walked in, stood by Brian’s bedside, asked Brian
how he was doing, told him that he was very proud of them both and
that they were his heroes.
The President then saluted Brian.
Now, at this point in time, Brian is bandaged up pretty well. His
hands are burned very badly as well as the back of him from the head
down. His movements were very restricted. Upon seeing the President
saluting him, Brian began to slowly return the salute, taking, from
the accounts so far, about 15-20 seconds to get his hand up to his
head. During all of this, 15-20 seconds, President Bush never moved,
never dropped his salute.
The President dropped his salute only when Brian was finished with
his, and then gave Mel a huge hug for what also probably seemed like
No further comments. Pray for our leadership. Thank God for what we
are, have, and will be.
As a note to those of you who might not be familiar with military
protocol, the subordinate normally initiates a salute and will hold
it until the superior officer returns the salute.
In the above incident, President Bush acted in the role of the
subordinate to show his respect and high regard for the injured man.