The lead stories on tonight’s NBC News broadcast offered two of the most contrasting scenes I could possibly imagine. First, news that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will hang sometime in the next three hours. Richard Engel did man-on-the-street interviews with everyday Iraqis on the war-torn streets of Baghdad. The Iraqi capital seemed a bleak, dirty and violent place.
Moments later, the news cameras turn to another desert, this time in Southern California, where our nation prepares to bury its former president. The Ford family’s small Episcopalian church, a modern structure set against a sandy hillside, seemed incredibly clean compared to the footage from Baghdad.
One nation braces for even more unimaginable violence over the death of a former president, while another seems to unite. The red, white and black of the Iraqi flag, set in a Mesopotamian desert, seems so foreign, so far away from Old Glory fluttering under the warm skies of a California afternoon.
The contrast is stunning.