A personal moment of truth

At last the campaign is finished. In the early days I traveled with the Democratic contenders, and in the closing days I attended rallies with followers of President Bush. There were many memorable moments, but one in particular stands far above the rest.

I was in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 17, two days before the Iowa Caucuses, to photograph an event with Sen. John Kerry. When he arrived, he strode past me repeating, "Where's Jim? Where's Jim?" And when he saw him standing nearby, they immediately embraced. Jim Rassmann's eyes welled with tears. It was the first time the two had seen each other since the Vietnam War, when Lieutenant Kerry had plucked a wounded Special Forces Lieutenant Rassmann from the Bai Hap River. This was the purest display of emotion I witnessed on either side of the campaign. Electoral politics tend to mangle the truth, and both parties are guilty of it. But on that cold January day in Iowa, I saw in Rassmann's eyes and in his embrace an undisputable truth: He felt that he owed his life to this man.

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