This week we have been exposed to the most depraved of human behavior in the rioting and violence in Baltimore. We have also seen what a lack of leadership can mean for the law-abiding citizens and business owners. S it is a welcome respite when we can find a brilliant rainbow in the midst of a tumultuous storm.
And so it was for me Wednesday evening, when I spoke in Franklin, Tennessee, for the Republican Women of Williamson County. Before me stood two American warriors — the impeccable example of our modern day Spartans, U.S. Army Special Forces Green Berets. These two men were members of the U.S. Army 5th Special Forces Group based at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky (the post is really in Tennessee, except for the post office).
They confided in me that although the following day they were off for a deployment — they could not pass up the opportunity to meet me. I was utterly humbled, truly honored. But what was even more outstanding was that one of these young men was a former Iraqi interpreter/translator who had been sponsored to enter the United States.
Imagine the character and honor of this young man to come to America, not just to sit on his arse and draw welfare, but rather he joined our military. And not just the military — he exceeded the standard and became the most exceptional Army Soldier — a Green Beret. We spoke and the radiance of his comportment and sense of pride as he stood before me in his suit with his Special Forces lapel pin just said volumes. Here before me was a man, a Man who was appreciative, who put his life on the line for this antion as an I/T in Iraq but made the honorable decision that he could give even more service.
This young man was the embodiment of President John F. Kennedy’s statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I just smile, wondering how many of those “thugs” in Baltimore possess the same belief, and embrace the same code?
As I flew back from Nashville to Dallas Thursday morning, I thought about the former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, of Iranian descent, who sits imprisoned by the “thugs” of the Iranian theocratic regime — abandoned by his beloved country to whom he swore an oath.
How can it be that this young warrior who was willing to serve, sacrifice, and commit to give the last full measure of devotion to this nation be treated with such disdain? Can someone please explain to me why a commander-in-chief would seek to negotiate with a country that holds an American Marine captive — not that this is the first time?
Here in America we have liberal progressive pundits angry because we refer to these violent criminals in Baltimore as “thugs” — and some of them have been carelessly released from detainment. Yet, where is the consideration for Amir Hekmati? Where is the celebration for the former Iraqi translator who as I type this missive, has headed off on a deployment — as a U.S. Special Forces Soldier?
Hekmati and this Special Forces Soldier are examples of legal immigration and how the welcoming torch of liberty and freedom leads to the embracing of our principles and values. And even how there are those willing to stand as guardians of this Republic.
Contrast that to the immigration of the Somali community to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota that has become a hot bed of recruiting — not for the U.S. Marines or for the Army Special Forces, but rather for the Islamic state. And if you haven’t been paying attention, slowly there has been an influx of Syrian refugees into this nation.
I’m just as benevolent as the next fella — but are we creating a new enclave of militant Islamism? And I was told the stories by quite a few that Nashville,Tennessee has been a dumping ground for these refugees to the extent that Governor Bill Haslem had to make a call to President Obama.
But, I want to close on a vey positive note. We need it after this week, which it seems may never end.
Forty years ago there was a monumental event in the military history of the United States.
As reported by NPR, “Brig. Gen. Viet Luong sits on a case of MREs, the soldiers’ daily meals. He’s inside a cavernous hanger at an Afghan army base outside the southern city of Kandahar. Luong’s job is to train the Afghan military to fight a guerrilla force, the Taliban. But he’s willing to talk about another guerrilla war, long ago.
Forty years ago this week Luong’s father, a South Vietnamese Marine major, called an urgent family meeting at their home in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. The city, his father told them, soon would fall to the North Vietnamese — the communist forces he was helping the Americans fight. They sat around the table — father, mother, seven sisters and Luong, then age 9. “My sisters actually had a very strong opinion — like ‘we need to stay until we find a way out as a family,’ ” he recalls. Luong still remembers the night he came to give the entire family official government papers that would get them into Tan Son Nhut Air Base, just north of Saigon. From there, they’d be taken out of Vietnam. Soon after the family arrived at the air base, rockets and mortars started landing. “I was lying then on my stomach,” he says. “We’re Catholics, so I was saying my Hail Marys, you know. And uh … and so we were scared, so my dad looked up and said ‘look — don’t be afraid.’ He said ‘you’re missing out on a monumental moment in history,’ right? ‘You need to be able to see what’s going on.’ So that calmed us down for a little bit, but it was really hopeless until the Marines came in.” On April 29, 1975, the family boarded a Marine helicopter and headed out to the South China Sea.”
Forty-five years later today, that scared little Vietnamese boy is a U.S. Army Brigadier General of the 1st Cavalry Division “First Team” — a unit that fought bravely in Vietnam and actually came to the rescue of my older Brother at Khe Sanh. Luong attended the University of Southern California and joined ROTC, keeping good on the promise he made on that carrier flight deck. He would join the Army. “My dad told me — I think half-jokingly maybe — that he was disappointed that I wasn’t going to be a Marine,” Luong says. “But he says, ‘as long as you’re gonna be an airborne guy, that’s OK, too.’ “Luong rose up the ranks, and is now deputy commander of the First Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas.
BG Luong stated, “I still remember that moment to this day, because as soon as we landed I looked at my dad and I said, uh, I said ‘Dad, where are we at?’ And he looked at me and he says, ‘hey, we’re aboard the American carrier USS Hancock.’ And I say, ‘well, what does that mean?’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘that means nothing in the world can harm you now.’ ”
Perhaps those thugs in Baltimore need a lesson in what the true loss of liberty and freedom really is. Perhaps they need to understand the tribulation that Amir Hekmati faces. Perhaps they should look into the eyes of the young former Iraqi interpreter who is now an Amy Green Beret as he boards the aircraft for his deployment. Maybe they should be put into an auditorium and hear the story of BG Viet Luong. Something needs to happen to make these rascals realize that they live in a great nation and that they are not entitled to have space to destroy the livelihood and dreams of others. Especially since that is what these men have fought to defend.