Bush’s address Friday at the annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello was immediately interrupted by a handful of antiwar demonstrators, one of whom repeatedly shouted, "Impeach Bush!" Bush, apparently unfazed, offered a holiday-appropriate response.
"To my fellow citizens-to-be, we believe in free speech in the United States of America," Bush said to hearty applause.
Six protesters, including one in a cartoonish Uncle Sam hat, were "voluntarily escorted" away from the crowd of 3,000, and no arrests were made, said Lee Catlin, a spokeswoman for Albemarle County.
The citizenship ceremony has been held annually since 1963 outside Jefferson’s colonnaded plantation home in the verdant Piedmont hills. Bush, the fourth U.S. president to address the event, lauded the "guiding principles" Jefferson laid out in the Declaration of Independence, saying they had long inspired immigrants like those gathered before him.
"They’ve made America a melting pot of cultures from all across the world. They’ve made diversity one of the great strengths of our democracy," he said. "And all of us here today are here to honor and pay tribute to that great notion of America." " Washpost
If I read the news correctly, this was Bush’s first visit to Monticello? That is a surprise. Most people who are of the visiting class have been there, often several times. Monticello and Gettysburg are on the "must do" list. I wonder if he has been to Mount Vernon right down the road (12 miles perhaps) from the public housing he occupies at present. I wonder if he has ever been in any of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution? I suppose that he is not interested in such things. The past seem to be dead for him. Perhaps he has been to the Alamo? Ah, yes. That would be a political necessity. In visiting the Alamo a few years ago, I found the damp, dark, little church to be both depressing and unimpressive. On the other hand, the obvious devotion of the hordes of modern Texans who filled the site to overflowing was indeed impressive.
Bush was heckled at Monticello. It is not something I would have done. The place, the day, his office and the new Americans would have kept me safe from such a display, but I am heartened that this could happen and that there were no arrests, just an escorted trip to a parking lot at the bottom of the little mountain. Homage is due to the officials of Albemarle County for that.
Jefferson succeeded John Adams as president. Adams had displayed a tendency to authoritarian grandiosity as president. He liked court uniforms. He wanted to be called, "your excellency." He imprisoned editors who disagreed with him. He had come to be an enemy of his old friend Mr. Jefferson.
Nevertheless, he handed over power without any sort of struggle. He handed power over to a man who walked to the White House from the capitol after his inaugural address, walked followed by an entourage of children and workmen. After that, he freed the editors. Someone will say that he thought freedom more important for editors than for his slaves.
We still have a lot of problems in this country. We have more problems than we had before George W. Bush was president, but the simple phrase "there were no arrests" in the story above should give us a good deal of hope. pl