December 7th marked the seventy-first anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which left 2,402 Americans killed and 1,282 wounded. In American history, it was the third bloodiest day after the 9/11 attack and the Battle of Antietam where 23,000 men were left killed, wounded, or missing.
I was privileged to attend the Freedom Alliance Dinner last Friday night in recognition of this anniversary and in honor of our veterans. The Freedom Alliance is an organization established in 1990 by Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC (Ret). It’s “mission is to advance American heritage of freedom by honoring and encourage military service, defending the sovereignty of the United States and promoting a strong national defense.”
I’m happy that there are organizations like the Freedom Alliance striving to fulfill such a mission. Too often in our history, veterans are not given the honor and appreciation they deserve.
This is particularly true with respect to Vietnam veterans. Not only were they not properly honored but in many cases they were frankly demonized for their service. To this day, there still isn’t proper recognition and support for the veterans of that war. Because of this, I was especially pleased to be part of this year’s Freedom Alliance Dinner since it not only recognized the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, but it also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and honored a Vietnam soldier and Medal of Honor recipient named Sammy Davis.
I have a special appreciation of the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans. Several years ago, I spent three weeks in Vietnam as part of a class I was taking at Hanover College. While there, I saw firsthand the difficult circumstances members of our military confronted in that war in an effort to preserve freedom. It saddens me to think these heroes conducted themselves with such valor while enduring a tremendous lack of emotional and moral support from the very citizens whose interests they were ultimately trying to protect. As Americans, we are fully within our rights to oppose wars in which our country is engaged, but we are never right in attacking fellow citizens who risk their own lives and defend us by serving in the military.
My favorite president is George Washington and one of my favorite quotes is his when he said that “the willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
Veterans of all wars deserve a special thank you. This holiday season is a great time to do just that. The veterans of the Vietnam War, in particular, should receive a special thank you. They went through Hell for freedom and were never thanked properly. They fought in terrible conditions and came home to a heartbreaking hostile environment. It’s better late than never to thank these Vietnam heroes. Be sure to do it now if you have the opportunity.
Also, please check out the Freedom Alliance at www.freedomalliance.org. They are a wonderful organization doing tremendous good. For example, they award scholarships to the children of veterans killed in action or those who were permanently disabled because of war. I was privileged to meet one of the scholarship recipients at my table. He is going to medical school (and making straight A’s). His quest for a medical degree started with his desire to help his father who is a Vietnam veteran affected by Agent Orange.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Mille Hallow from the NRA, Ralph Hallow of The Washington Times, and television host Sean Hannity. We need more people like these three individuals willing to speak out on behalf of our military.