The Obama Bracelet Issue, part 2

I have tremendous respect for Staff Sgt. Brian Jopek, who is the father of Ryan David Jopek, the soldier killed in Iraq whose bracelet Barack Obama wore during the debate.

When I discovered the March interview in which the father related the mother’s desire for Senator Obama not to wear it, I was struck by how diplomatic Brian Jopek was trying to be.

He was, in March, still on active duty, and was about to be deployed to Guantanamo. I expect that he’s there now, I don’t know.

This was the Wisconsin Public Radio interview I found. on this WPR website (the March 20 2008 interview) SSgt. Jopek tells the interviewer that the mother had asked Barack Obama not to wear the bracelet.

During the interview, in which the WPR interviewer is trying to get SSgt. Jopek to speak out against the war, he’s clearly not cooperating. He is concerned, he says, about the new president pulling out of Iraq before the job is done.

I admire his constraint, and his careful reaction to the interviewer. He’s likely to get drawn into this, and I am sorry about that. For what it’s worth, I believe that Brian Jopek has conducted himself admirably, carefully avoiding the political aspects but clearly believing in the mission. It is evident that he does not support Senator Obama’s plan to “pull up stakes or ‘pop smoke'” as he puts it. And yet he says nothing about the candidate specifically, and is respectful and cautious.

My hat is off to him, and my condolences to the family for their loss of a young man who was tremendously respected and loved and proud to serve his country.

===|==============/ Level Head

  • In fact, I had just written about that — and if Brian Jopek was “just plain wrong” on any detail, it is not evident from her statements or the rest of the article.

    She apparently had the broadcast paraphrased to her by the reporter — who seems to have gotten it “just plain wrong”.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • TimH

    Soldier’s mom defends Obama’s mention of bracelet
    By DINESH RAMDE | Associated Press Writer
    6:37 PM CDT, September 28, 2008
    MILWAUKEE – After Tracy Jopek gave Sen. Barack Obama a bracelet in honor of her son who was killed in Iraq, she asked Obama not to mention the bracelet on the campaign trail.

    But Jopek told The Associated Press on Sunday that she’s satisfied with how Obama discussed it during last week’s presidential debate.

    Jopek gave Obama the bracelet at a Green Bay rally in February. It has the name of her son, Sgt. Ryan David Jopek, and the date the 20-year-old was killed by a roadside bomb, Aug. 2, 2006. “All gave some — He gave all,” it says.

    A few days after offering it to the Illinois Democrat, Jopek, of Merrill in north-central Wisconsin, had a change of heart. She realized it could be interpreted as a protest against the war, a statement that made her uncomfortable because other military families who suffered losses still supported the conflict.

    “I am a mother, a mother who lost her son. It’s hard to know what’s right, what’s wrong about this war. Very hard,” she said. “And I know there are a lot of families who lost loved ones.”

    So she e-mailed the Obama campaign through its Web site asking that he not mention it during debates or speeches.

    She never got a reply but said she didn’t hear of him mentioning it after that — until Friday, when Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain appeared in their first debate. In response to a question about Iraq, McCain said a New Hampshire woman asked him to wear a bracelet honoring her fallen son, and asked him to make sure the Iraq mission succeeded so his death would not be in vain.

    Obama responded that he too wears a bracelet, one for Sgt. Jopek, but for a different reason — to make sure all American wars are fought for good reason.

    “No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain because they’re carrying out the missions of their commander in chief. And we honor all the service that they’ve provided. Our troops have performed brilliantly,” Obama said. “The question for the next president is, are we making good judgments about how to keep America safe, precisely because sending our military into battle is such an enormous step.”

    It was an answer that Tracy Jopek said made her proud.

    “His response in the debate was exactly that, a response, after John McCain put it out there first,” she said. “I think it was an appropriate response — he was just saying there’s another side to the story, there’s two different viewpoints.”

    Obama’s comment sparked a number of angry comments from bloggers who suggested Obama was exploiting her son’s death to score political points. Jopek said those bloggers might have heard comments that her son’s father made on Wisconsin Public Radio on March 20.

    In an interview with Glen Moberg, National Guard Staff Sgt. Brian Jopek said his ex-wife asked Obama not to wear the bracelet at any further public appearances. But Obama was still apparently wearing it, he said.

    “So, that’s his own choice. I mean that’s something Barack Obama, that’s a choice that he continues to wear it despite Tracy asking him not to,” he told Moberg.

    Tracy Jopek said she didn’t hear the interview but that her ex-husband, who is currently stationed in Cuba, mischaracterized her viewpoint. An e-mail message sent to Brian Jopek through his daughter on Sunday was not immediately returned.

    “I think he knew my intention, he understands it was a gesture between me and Sen. Obama,” she said. “It was just little piece of peace for us. I don’t understand how people can take that and turn it into some garbage on the Internet.”

    She wouldn’t directly say whether she wanted Obama to refrain from mentioning the bracelet again, but she hopes the whole issue will just go away.

    “I think these bracelets should be looked upon as an honor that both candidates wear them to respect the troops,” she said. “My request to both of them is that they honor the troops by lifting the conversation to the issues, and that they continue to live up to the standards our military deserves.”

  • Pingback: Bracelet Update: She did ask him not to use it()

  • Continuum

    AP actually just interviewed the Mother.

    She says that she was “thrilled” that Obama wore the bracelet and mentioned her son.

    Turns out that the Mother’s ex-husband was just plain wrong.

  • Vain

    Obama only cares about himself! a grieving mother ask for her son not to be used as a campaign stunt! and she stated she doesnt believe in obama foreing policy! obama should be exposed nationally!!