I’m going to step back from the current hoopla in DC and talk about something entirely different and largely unrelated. I want to refer back to the recent death and much ado over the memorial services and discussions of the Left and Right over Senator John McCain, former Navy POW in Vietnam brought to mind some of our forgotten or unremembered heroes of late. I write this not to speak derogatorily of Senator McCain, that would serve no real productive purpose. I did not like Senator McCain’s politics and there are conflicting reports of his time in Hanoi Prisons, but I will leave that to history and to God. He is gone and now someone will take his seat and either continue his brand of politics or chart a different course for Arizona and the nation politically. Time will tell how that will unfold.
What I want to do is identify a man who also served in the United States Senate and was given little recognition for his POW status, his sufferings, or his leadership. He attended the Naval Academy, was a Navy aviator flying combat missions over hostile enemy territory, and spent years confined in Vietnamese prisons, endured torture and beatings and maintained his honor and dignity through it all. One would think that such a man would have had national recognition at his passing, but he did not. This man was retired Rear Admiral Jeremiah Denton who served as a Senator from Alabama.
He was a contemporary of George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter. He excelled academically earning a master’s in international relations from George Washington University and won the Naval War College’s award for best thesis. He was a respected thinker and an honorable man. He was one of America’s oldest active American pilots during Vietnam, serving at age 41 and was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965. He spent almost 8 years as a POW and was known for outwitting his captors by sending the Code letters, T-O-R-T-U-R-E blinking his eyes in Morse Code as he answered the questions on video. He achieved the rank of Rear Admiral after his release from the Vietnamese and was a part of the Moral Majority. In 1979 he ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican in Alabama and as a noted underdog surprised the Republican establishment by winning the primary. He ran on a platform of Pro-Life, Pro-Family and won the general election as Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter.
Senator Denton was welcomed to Washington by the MSM with the same sort of respect they have given Donald J. Trump and others who do not fit their mode and follow their ideology. His first big piece of legislation, the Adolescent Family Life Act, was mocked by the media. The media demonstrated their bias by attacking his legislation which was an adaptation and modification of existing legislation and sponsored by none other than the Democratic favorite, Ted Kennedy. He worked successfully behind the scenes to achieve bipartisan support on key conservative measures and stood true to his principles and ideological beliefs. Although he ran what appeared to be a half-hearted and complacent campaign in 1986, he still almost won. He was defeated in the wave to remove Republicans that swept the country and was replaced by a Democrat who later switched parties, Richard Shelby. He fought for the preservation of Western Civilization, the permanence of our American Constitution, the Rights of the Unborn, and was very Pro-God and Pro-Family personally and politically.
His service to our country both as a former POW and as an elected public servant should be remembered, but when he died at the age of 89 there was not national notice. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in 2014 but there was no television coverage, no preempting of the daily soaps, sitcoms, or sporting events and his pallbearers did not include prominent Hollywood figures or political icons. He served quietly, faithfully, and loyally and almost no one remembered. The failure to remember him and others like him was and is a tragedy!
Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) was also a POW in Vietnam and flew missions in both Korea and Vietnam before being shot down. He spent nearly 7 years as a captive and for 2 ½ years was in leg irons and 72 days had his feet in stocks. When he returned to Texas in 1973 after his release he weighed 140 pounds. He always declared that he would never let his physical wounds hold him back in life or in spirit. He reminded everyone in his plea for funding and respect for our military during Obama’s first term reminding everyone that while he and his fellow POWs were imprisoned Washington cut the funding for Vietnam. He recalled the horror that the Anti-War sentiment and the actions of Congress brought upon people like himself. His captors were emboldened and considered America a weak-willed paper tiger.
As he stood before Congress he said these chilling words and words that should cause every patriot to rise in defense. He said, “Our troops, our families, want, need and deserve the full support of the country and Congress.” He also reminded Congress and the world that, “Debating non-binding resolutions aimed at earning political points only destroys morale, stymies success, and emboldens the enemy.” That is a truth that cannot be evaded. He said that when he and his fellow prisoners returned home they vowed to stop “griping about how the government ran the war and do something positive about it.” He was and is an American Patriot and a hero.
A true American patriot and War Hero is not one that is created for political purposes but one who has or is serving his country with honor. A true American hero is a man or woman who places duty to country above his personal safety or enrichment. A true America hero is not someone who self-aggrandizes, self-promotes, and seeks personal gain over the duty to serve the constituents, the country, and protect and defend the constitution. There are many members of Congress past and present who have served in the United States Military in both parties. There are those who have demonstrated anything but a dedication to the ideals and founding principles of the Republic and there are those who have and do. I have no problem with a veteran writing a book about his/her experiences, that is an individual right. I don’t talk about my time in Vietnam largely because I see no benefit in remembering and being reminded of a dark time in my life. I will, however, fight to the death to defend the memories of those with whom I served and all who served, especially those who never came home. If I can help a fellow veteran or their family with an accounting of my time there, I will do it, but otherwise, don’t ask because I choose not to discuss it. God set me free from the memories and nightmares and gratefully I will continue to move forward toward the finish line of life with victory.
Just because a man or a woman was or is deemed a military hero does not mean they are always on the right side of any political or life issue. They are still members of the human family and flawed vessels. I do not vote for a candidate simply because he or she served but because of their policies. Just because they are veterans, POWs, or decorated does not automatically afford them license to practice destructive politics. Their service earns my respect and I will never trash their service, but I may reject their policies. What am I saying? Sometimes, I wonder if a class of American Hero that is forgotten might be the Voter who looks beyond the hype and refuses to be beaten into submission by the attempted guilt of not voting for a War Hero, a particular ethnicity or gender and votes FOR AMERICA! Maybe what I’ve said is simply, Roy Beaird being troubled by the state of American politics and maybe it resonates with you. If it does, thank you for your service and thank you for standing with those of us who want to see the American Constitutional Republic protected, preserved, and restored.
God bless you and God bless America!