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Talking bridges with the president

When President George W. Bush visited Minneapolis and the site of the collapsed 35W bridge last August, he stopped by the headquarters of Twin Cities Red Cross, just a block away on West River Road. Welcoming him was a Red Cross volunteer who does counseling with trauma victims, Elaine Brant. After greeting the President, Brant told him she wished to offer a sentence of concern. The President responded, “Please, take a whole paragraph.”
Brant immediately told President Bush about her concern over his role in “bridge building” in another part of the world. “I said I was pleased to hear of his commitment to bringing together Palestinians and Israelis in the search for a two-state solution to the conflict in the Holy Land,” Brant told Metro Lutheran. “And I expressed my support for a strong role by him as peace builder and urged him to hang in there when that task became tough,” she added.
The President responded “Well, I never expected your paragraph to be about that. But thank you and God bless you.” Some weeks later the Twin Cities Red Cross received from the White House a collection of photos taken during the President’s visit.
Elaine Brant belongs to Beaver Lake Lutheran Church in Maplewood, Minnesota. She is a member of the Joint Peace with Justice Committee of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Area synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The committee for several years held as a priority advocating with the U.S. government for resolution of the Holy Land conflict.
Brant had been part of a Twin Cities delegation to the Holy Land led by former Metro Lutheran editor Charles P. Lutz. She says that the Christian Palestinians with whom the delegation met consistently asked members to tell the president to work for peace. On a warm August day two years later, Brant was able to fulfill the commitment she had made.