It is superbly fitting that White House press secretary James S. Brady returned home to his 2-year-old son, James S. Brady Jr., and to his wife, Sarah, for Thanksgiving. Brady is possessed of a legendary love of life, and, in the Great Republic, Thanksgiving Day is an affirmation of life as it is lived by those Americans who matter most, the ones who persevere in their labors, gather in the harvest, nod heavenward and feast. Brady has labored gallantly these past eight months, with his wife as his worthy associate. They have earned a feast.
Just a few weeks ago, Brady was not expected to go home until Christmas. However, the doctors have been repeatedly forced to revise their expectations ever since March 30, when a beast fired a pistol point-blank at him and his boss. That splendid medical team at George Washington University Hospital must not be slighted, but from everything one hears it has been Brady himself --his surpassing courage, his tenacity, his verve--that has carried him through. I am glad he made it home a month early. Thanksgiving is a holiday especially redolent of the kind of citizen that he is and of the kind of citizen that his boss hopes we all are--namely, strong-willed and resourceful. Besides, the Christmas season with all its meretricious good cheer always puts me out of sorts.
Brady has overcome four operations, unnumbered agonies and daunting setbacks. And why? He has suffered because one of those low-down types so fascinating to the impresarios of popular culture decided to shoot a celebrated official. Brady has spent mornings and afternoons in physical training every bit as grueling as that undertaken by an athlete training for a championship event. The difference being that no gold or silver is in hs future, only the hope of regaining movements that we all take for granted. Dr. Arthur Kobrine, his neurosurgeon, states, "I have never known a person with more courage." As Kobrine works in a pretty grim area of medicine, I think we can take him at his word.
As remarkable as all this is, it is also worth noting Brady's dignity and, for that matter, the dignity manifest by his fellow victims. Through all their trials, there has been none of the trashiness that we had come to expect in the "Me Decade": the cloying self- pity, the embarrassing self-revelations, that blah about personal turning points or personal growth.
Rather we have seen grit and optimism, strong will and good humor. There have been no contracts to travel the campus Chautauqua circuit. You can be sure that the publishers and the PR agents have been all about, but thus far we have been spared the merchandising of misfortune that so often contitutes high literature in modern America. Finally, all this restraint has come from the camp of the self-proclaimed capitalists. Let the public-interest socialists note that marvel!
We live in an age befouled by the infantile disciples of those gloomy determinists, Dr. Marx and Dr. Freud. Their wisdom flows from such arguments as: "His father was the Ford salesman, therefore he is . . . , her father wore cologne, therefore she . . ." Brady's display of will thwarts all their bogus wisdom. He has worked a series of miracles, unfettered by his socioeconomic plight or the findings of a shrink. It is this sort of self-reliance that his boss believes is responsible for America's strength. If there is still enough of such character around, he expects it to advance American prosperity where government has so thumpingly failed. At this time of year, it has become increasingly familiar to hear that modern America is the inescapable result of rich natural resources, the point being that our prosperity and well-being are more products of good fortune than sound principles and good character. Such arguments rely on the audiences' ignorance of foreign parts. The heat of our summers and the cold of our winters are not, in truth, the envy of the world. Rather, the world envies us for the fruits of our labors. This Thanksgiving James Brady reminded us that perseverance in those labors can still work miracles.