Jeremiah Denton was the greatest American I ever personally knew. When the former admiral, prisoner of war, and U.S. senator died on Friday at 89, America lost not just a profoundly brave man but a profoundly good one.
Most readers know the basics of his story as a POW: shot down and badly wounded; tortured mercilessly; leader within the prison camp in keeping up discipline and morale among his mistreated fellow POWs; ordered by his captors to testify on camera against his own nation, but instead defended America while using his eyes to blink the word t-o-r-t-u-r-e in Morse code; eloquent in word and gesture when finally released after seven-and-a-half years in captivity.
If you haven’t already, please do read his memoir of that experience, When Hell Was in Session. It will make you weep — and it also will make you rejoice at the human capacity for endurance, faith, and especially redemption.