by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
The first Veteran's Administration Hospital in America was paid for with a check for one million dollars in 1918. The check was presented by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Taxpayers had nothing to do with it.
By early 2004 it was clear to Americans there had been no Weapons of Mass Destruction. The news was filled with images of suffering in Iraq and whole families dying. Coffins holding the bodies of American military were returning to America. Former military were struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and dying on the street, left homeless by the failure of the Veteran's Administration to provide needed care.
In our Lodge, No. 613, Santa Barbara, where I served as Esquire, ensuring our members remained orderly, helping retired military was always on the agenda. By 2004 surge of patriotism, produced by 9/11 was waning. Another four years of George W. Bush looked like a really bad idea, but who could we trust?
It was during a conversation with Steve Brown, a former Exalted Ruler, it came to me that General Norman Schwarzkopf was just the man for the job. So did Steve. So we decided to draft him.
Papers were filed for our campaign committee with the FEC. Steve modestly accepted the position of Chairman of the Draft Committee. The website went up. The news release went out.
Phone calls and email began to roll in.
Then, we were contacted by the newly formed Veterans Party, who really, really wanted Norman as their candidate, too. Phil Meskin, their founder, is a Vietnam Veteran who has served vets since the day he left the service.
It was a perfect partnership.
Norman was living in Florida, right next door to a friend of Mike Pinera's of Iron Butterfly. Mike was living with Jerry Corbetta then. Jerry wrote “Green-Eyed Lady,” and he and Mike toured with Classic Rock All Stars.
Jerry is a friend of mine. Using various connections a sit down with Norman was arranged. We found out Norman was fighting cancer. A presidential run was, therefore, out of the question. It was a sad moment.
Americans desperately wanted a president they could trust. All of us trusted Norm, a man with brains, balls and simple decency.
Election Day saw the longest waiting lines to vote in memory. We wanted peace, sanity, kindness and a government we could trust. It should have been Norman.