July 4th, 2009
06:11 AM ET

Dear President #166: Fourth of July – The Great Escape

Reporter's Note: President Obama is trying to grab a little rest this holiday weekend. At our house we are continuing with our summer movie-fest of classic films, and I’m continuing my marathon of letters to the White House.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Happy 4th of July! Your first as President! That must be a truly unusual sensation, and I hope it is sitting well on your shoulders, like a brand new suit that fits just like an old one. I understand you are trying to catch a little break at Camp David, and I hope that is going well too. As I mentioned last weekend, we are watching a broad range of classic films this summer, and as promised I will skip the presidential advice each Saturday for a while, to simply chat about what we’ve seen and some of the great lessons we might all learn from these masterpieces. We enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s this past week, and we have Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in the lineup, but the movie I really hope we get to while the fireworks are flying is The Great Escape. What a spectacular film! And, I must say, a perfect Independence Day movie. It has everything: Brave soldiers, adventure, suspense, loyalty, and frustrated Nazis!

But most of all, it has Steve McQueen. For my money, as respected as McQueen was during his life, he has been far too easily forgotten by the modern movie crowd. His Captain Hilts was stalking the reels of this film with impossible style in 1963; the same year Captain Jack Sparrow, aka Johnny Depp, was born. McQueen was cool before cool was cool. Or at least soon afterward.

But he is also, in The Great Escape, the very model of a certain type of American that has been utterly essential to our nation’s success. Hilts is a dreamer. He looks at the impossibility of being locked up in a German POW camp, and sees only the possibilities of breaking out.

Hilts is patient. He is recaptured time and again, locked in solitary, “the cooler,” and simply bounces his baseball in a steady rhythm, biding time until his next run for freedom.

Hilts is stubborn. He never gives up. Hilts is brave. He knows he may be killed, but he’ll take that over defeat or captivity. Hilts is a team player. He inspires all around him through dogged will. Hilts is an individualist. He charts his own course through the cosmos, is responsible for his own fate, and while respecting the needs of others, does not give into the tyranny of fear or mediocrity.

Most of all, he never, ever, for even a hint of a moment, despairs; and in difficult times, there is nothing more important than the fierce conviction that you must put one foot ahead of the other and keep walking toward better days, confident that you will succeed. Just in case you have never seen this masterpiece, I won’t reveal the ending, but there is one point in the movie I will mention: McQueen’s character, Hilts, is standing before the prison camp commander. Not a word is said. Not a big gesture or overdone bit of acting. Hilts just stares at the other man, and in the steel of his eyes, and that faint smile that McQueen could let go like the flash of a falling star, he says everything about American determination and hope: We don’t give in, we don’t give up. We may not always win, but we don’t hang our heads in shame. We don’t accept defeat at the hands of those who are in the wrong, when we know we are in the right.

Heck of a movie. Not as predictable for the 4th of July as some films, but a great choice nonetheless. Check it out if you can, and if you can’t find it give me a call. I might be able to run my DVD copy up to Camp David for you.

Hope the family is well and enjoying the holiday too. Not to bring up business, but have you followed this Sarah Palin-bailing-out-as-Governor-of-Alaska-business? Wild stuff. Talk about going off like a Roman Candle!



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.</a

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. joe

    It took eight years to create this mess. It not gona be solved in One Year. No one was walking on the White House Doors having Tea Party when Bush and Chaney was in office for Eight Years.Get real People.We see clean threw you people.Whats funny is if you really new just what you look LIKE!

    July 6, 2009 at 12:42 am |
  2. Sharon S

    I would just like to know what sort of person is Obama who is supposed to be the President of America yet goes off and leaves the country on the Biggest Holiday and celebration of the year!!

    Ok I think Obama has made his point this country is NOTHING to him but a place he hopes to run into the ground and be dictator of!!

    Sad and Pathetic!

    I wouldn't count Sarah Palin out just yet at LEAST she is a TRUE AMERICAN!! Unlike Osama Hussan Obama, who is clearly a Muslim and NOT ashamed to show Americans he can't stand us!!

    So much for you Obama, good ridence do us a favor next time you and your family leave the country STAY!!

    July 5, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  3. Lampe

    Janet: Is Obama a " Quitter?" Because he said he would finish his Senate job he was elected to and not run for POTUS. But, he didn't. DID HE? Just because Gov. Palin decide to step down, doesn't make her anymore a "Quitter" than Obama. They both decided to step down, for their own reasons. My GOD! it's time to stop all the HATE.

    July 5, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  4. A.J.

    Other politicians won't leave when they need to, they just think of themselves. Palin said that by staying it was costing the state of AK millions of dollars. Resigning to save the state money is not something a"quitter" would do, it shows real integrity and good judgement.

    July 5, 2009 at 7:49 am |
  5. James

    American people are beeing laughed at by the rest of the world for not taking action against our rogue government.
    obama has everyone convenced the answer to our economy problems is to help others. the problem is we have helped to much.
    all our appliances electronics dishes ect are made in foreign countries . we need to balance our imports to match our exports.limit the amount of out of country spending to what we make off the exports.
    All american products made somewhere else should be counted as imports also imported parts for american vehicals.
    Obama is working for the banks of the world not for the people of America.

    July 5, 2009 at 3:51 am |
  6. Alvin L.

    I also wonder why we are still in conflict wit the middle East instead of trying to invade North Korea. Is this a act out of cowardness of our economy? I'm starting to realize that this country can't even capitalize on a war where the opposition relies on very little technology. We're so worried about the middle eastern affairs we don't won't to worry about own, can we see the forest from the trees?

    July 5, 2009 at 3:44 am |
  7. av

    I am glad that Unites States of America can celebrate it´s independence yet you are supporting Chavez and all members of the ALBA that are obviously half of the members represented in the OAS so that Honduras is no longer a free country – hence if ex president Zelaya comes back – what will prevail in Honduras is a regime like Cuba and Venezuela have today. I cannot believe a country where freedom of speach is so important, supports and gives it´s backup to make that no longer possible once we are under a regime like the ones mentioned...I find this incredibly contrasting and very hypocritical. Why wont you support us and review all the evidence that backs-up all the illegal actions of the expresident Zelaya. You are one of the most powerful countries in the world, you state in your Constitution that you are innocent until proven guilty...why isn´t anyone supporting the trial to prove that Honduras is innocent and every country in the OAS is assuming all Hondurans are guilty when no one has cared to hear all the evidence we have and reviwe it carefully...and the polarized president of the OAS even states that evidence has been planted against ex president Zelaya...no one knew he was an authority ALL-MIGHTY to dictate that the evidence presented is not real...when and where did the trial take place for him to make that conclusion?

    July 5, 2009 at 1:39 am |
  8. Sandy

    Dr. Murray stated that there was no land-line phone in Michael Jackson's bedroom and that he could get no reception on his cell phone. If that's the case, how did Michael's security person call 911 from the bedroom and why did it take 30 minutes. I think it's all very strange.

    July 5, 2009 at 12:55 am |
  9. Linda

    Here's something that alot of individuals don't realize. Physician orders a Drip (say Diprivan). There are alot of physicians, who while they know what the drug is in terms of the properties it renders, they don't actually know how to "run" the drip. That is what the ICU Nurses manage. It's left to the Nurses that understand and follow up on the titration of these drugs based on constant monitoring of a patient's vital signs (to include EKG, blood pressure and respirations) to insure safe administration of critical care drugs. Not with-standing an Anesthesiologist would understand how to titrate and know what levels in terms of the amount of this particular drug a patient was receiving, but to be honest, alot of physicians don't have this knowledge of understanding how to titrate and too, the necessity of intubation with infusing such a medication. I know this sounds bizzare, but it is true. Test this at any private hospital with general physicians-they simply do not get involved in the calculation of Critical Drips, but depend on the ICU Nurse to inform them as to what the dosage that the patients are receiving and how that patient is tolerating the medication. So if this drug was administered to Michael Jackson and the individual who administered the drug did not understand the mechanism to calculate how much he was receiving, it is conceivable that Michael Jackson may have received too much. If I was a betting person, I would say that Michael Jackson developed severe respiratory depression or respiratory cessation at the hands of Diprivan. Without spontaneous respirations, no oxygen was travelling to the heart, hence Cardiac Arrest. This is terrible!

    July 4, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  10. RLWellman

    The only person who has less experience than Sarah Palin is Barrack Obama. Maybe now, the Left will leave her alone!

    July 4, 2009 at 7:28 pm |
  11. Kilian Okanwikpo

    My hearty congratulations to President Obama and to the people of America on the anniversary of America´s independence. America is a great nation, has always been – more so now with a talented but humble and dedicated leadership. God bless President Obama. God bless America.

    July 4, 2009 at 5:57 pm |

    I love Michael Jackson but he did not invent the dance call the moon walk. It's not even called the moon walk it's called the glide and Jeffrey Daniels of the group Shalamar invented the glide(moon walk) in 1978.
    and I Wallace Johnson won the state dance championship in Virginia in 1980 I was 13 years old doing the glide 3 years before Michael Jackson even thought about doing this dance. It upsets me every time when I hear someone says that he invented this dance because he did'nt it was Jeffrey Daniels not Michael Jackson.

    July 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  13. Janet

    Sarah Palin comes across like a "Quitter". I would not want someone like this as a leader!

    July 4, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  14. Sue

    Anderson – is anyone asking the questions:
    if MJ's MD had "broken the rules" and was in fact given propofol in the home setting –

    1. Was he monitored as he would have been if in the hospital/OR setting? Cardiac monitor? O2 saturation monitor? Both are easy to obtain and non-invasive life-saving equipment.

    2. Was there emergency/resusitation equipment equipment available as a precaution, as there would have been in the hospital if he was given this drug? Oxygen/bag and mask/intubation equipment? suction? portable defibrillator? Again, easy to obtain and life-saving.

    Narcan to reverse drug OD? Epinephrine for cardiac arrest? amiodarone for arrhythmias?

    Seems like he may have had a respiratory arrest leading to cardiac arrest, if given propofol, which could have been prevented if alerted to decreased respiratory rate, decreased oxygen saturations, or arrhythmias.

    3. Did MJ get introduced to this drug during the multiple plastic surgery procedures? Its just not something anyone would even know to ask for.

    Thank you,

    July 4, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  15. mary Frost

    This is my question to the news media: My friend in Texas told me that President Obama had signed an Executive Order Jan. 09, for the U.S. to allocate 20.3 million, to bring some Palestinians to resettle in here. She said that WE–THE TAXPAYER-are paying for their housing, food, health care and all resettlement cost. I did not hear this reported on ANY TV or radio station. Can you please check and see if this is a fact–somebody. I was able to find it on the internet also–but this story is hard for me to believe. FACTS PLEASE SOMEONE.

    July 4, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  16. Miroslava Casiano

    I just saw Larry King Live's special from two days ago I think and when one of the reporters is showing MJs room you can see MJs spirit walking across You have to watch it I'm shocked I'm shaking I can't stop crying

    July 4, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  17. Rose Mary Kenney

    One question... Who was watching the kids when/if Michael Jackson was being medicated/self medicating? I believe if the "whole family" are insomniacs, they are no more fit to be guardians than the surrogate who sold her kids back to Jackson: and cutting the cord seems as if she was merely "cashing a check".

    July 4, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  18. Milton Smith

    I wonder what Obama is going to do when Korea points a missle at him.

    July 4, 2009 at 8:17 am |