Bath, Maine – In a solemn ceremony punctuated by talk of courage, service and sacrifice, the mother of a Marine corporal on Saturday christened a warship honoring her son, who died after covering an exploding grenade to protect his comrades in Iraq.
After composing herself and taking a deep breath, Deb Dunham smashed a bottle of champagne over the bow of the 510-foot warship Jason Dunham, then held the bottle aloft before a cheering crowd of more than 1,500 people.
She was joined by the Marines who served with her son, by her husband, Dan Dunham, and their daughter Katelyn Dunham. Two other Dunham boys also were in the audience.
Retired Gen. Michael Hagee, a former Marine commandant who was with the Dunhams when their son died at Bethesda Naval Hospital days after the explosion in April 2004, said Jason gave the “gift of valor.” Hagee said the warship will serve as a reminder that freedom “is paid for by the men and women who wear the cloth of this nation.”
“They are willing to give up everything that is important: love, marriage, children, family, friends,” Hagee said of the 22-year-old Marine. “I can tell you I’ve always stood in awe of that.”
Dunham was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Souter makes plea for civic education
Chicago – Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter urged the nation’s lawyers Saturday to help revitalize civic education, warning that the failure of many Americans to understand how the government works poses a serious threat.
“There is a danger to judicial independence when people have no understanding of how the judiciary fits into the constitutional scheme,” Souter said in his keynote address to the American Bar Association’s annual meeting.
Souter pointed to a poll showing two-thirds of Americans can’t name the three branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial. He said that has to change to keep the nation’s judges independent of political pressures.
“We cannot stand up for the judiciary by leaving two-thirds of the American people ignorant that there are three branches,” he said.
Souter, who retired this year, received prolonged applause from members of the bar association, the nation’s leading lawyers group.