Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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Nicer than they look?

Q: After months of acrimony in Congress, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are joining together to try to reform the financial system. In your experience, is compromise and collegiality the road to success, or to neither-here-nor-there mediocrity? When has being single-minded and uncompromising helped you, and when has it hurt you?

The partisanship and lack of congeniality in Congress is disconcerting to many who feel increasingly alienated from our political system. The name-calling and rudeness that we see popping up is revolting.

I recently watched some TV coverage of legislators in Taiwan and the Ukraine throwing punches at one another. So things could always be worse. At least elected officials are not arriving in the chambers in the House and Senate with pepper spray!

I have seen a lot more collegiality among members of Congress than is noted by the vast majority of Americans who do not spend their careers in Washington DC. After work, many members seem to enjoy each others' company. They are all from the same gene pool of men and women driven to become elected. They have plenty in common. I suspect that great compromises are not made with TV cameras blazing.

Some cooperation is taking shape on the financial reform issues. We should never underestimate the ability of our Congress to eventually compromise after some often painful to listen to partisan posturing and showmanship. It is not all bad. What would the pundits and cable news channels do without a daily debate over issues that, after all, need to be looked at from opposing viewpoints?

Compromise is not something most folks like to do. But it is something we usually have to do if we are engaged in virtually any profession, not to exclude wading into Washington's many thorny issues. Compromising with spouses, kids, and other drivers on the highway of life is far better than fighting many losing battles day after day.

In 1979, I began a quest to place a national Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in our city. Three years later, what is now known as The Wall was dedicated.

There were compromises due to a raging debate over the "Black Gash of Shame and Sorrow," as some called the design. The compromise turned out well. The Three Servicemen Statue was the central element and it is loved by tourists and veterans. In just a few weeks we will begin repair of the Three Servicemen statues, dedicated in 1984 in a ceremony with words by President Reagan.

Take a look at www.vvmf.org to learn more about this and a profound Educational Center planned near the Memorial teaching of duty and sacrifice rendered by our Armed Forces.

By Jan Scruggs  |  May 13, 2010; 12:01 AM ET  | Category:  Meeting in the middle Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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