Faster, Please!

Only in America

Over the weekend, I participated in one of those events that makes you feel good to be an American. Along with a close friend, I gave away the bride at a small wedding ceremony on Long Island. It was a secular wedding and most certainly mixed marriage. The bride was an Iraqi who had worked as an interpreter on the battlefield for American forces, first with the Marine Corps and then with US special forces. She had come to the attention of the terrorists, to the point where her parents were forced to move from Baghdad, and she had to find a safe haven somewhere. Our daughter, then in Iraq, heard about the case from military friends, and she found a way to have the young girl come to America, although the U.S. government was unwilling to foot the bill. But the necessary funds were raised, the necessary lawyers came forward to handle her case, and eventually she got her green card and found honest work.

FOOTNOTE: It took a lot of work and a lot of time to convince the government that people such as her should be embraced by this country. If they are good enough to risk their lives on the battlefield with our soldiers, they are certainly good enough to be offered sanctuary here when and if they become targets of our mutual enemies. Furthermore, they have unique cultural and linguistic skills that we badly need, but to this day the bureaucrats maintain ridiculous requirements (mistakenly imposed in the name of “security”) that often make it impossible for these precious resources to work effectively with us. Thanks largely to Senator Santorum, the numbers of such people have expanded considerably, but there’s much more that needs to change.

It wasn’t easy for her (for one thing, she’d mastered “Marine English,” which, while very colorful, isn’t highly prized in the employment market), and America is a different kind of society, with many very different rules, than the one she comes from, but she’s a determined woman, and if her luck holds, she’ll be a terrific American.

FOOTNOTE 2: You may actually have seen her photograph; she was the one with the purple finger in the Oval Office with Pres. Bush on Iraqi Election Day.

She married a retired Marine who showed up for the ceremony in his dress blues, and for one glorious moment I thought that there might be enough Marines in the room to form an arch with their sabers, but no. It was all very simple and straightforward: they exchanged vows and rings, kissed in the appropriate Hollywood style, then ate and danced and went to bed early because — what else? — they were leaving first thing in the morning for Disney World.

I think they’re both lucky. I love Marines — as you know, we’ve got two of them in our family — and I think he may have the strength and sense of humor necessary to build a truly multicultural home. And she always wanted to join the Corps herself, and — who knows? — she may yet get there, and bring her husband along with her. He comes from a fine and strong family — his firefighting dad was one of the heroes of 9/11 — and they will provide a classic example of the compromises and sacrifices that make marriage work. Let’s hope. So far, so good. I can’t wait to see the kids, who will be very photogenic.

I was asked to say a few words, which were these: this was a quintessential American wedding. A handsome Marine marries a beautiful Iraqi woman who is led down the aisle by two old Jewish guys.

Don’t you think?