FAITHFUL AND BRAVE
Re: Jeff Emanuel's The Lost Heroes of the War on Terror:
Thank you, Jeff Emanuel, for your article "The Lost Heroes of the War on Terror." Left me speechless; we in the free world have a lot to thank the U.S. and our own servicemen and women for.
-- G. Constable
I wish to thank the Editors of The American Spectator, and Mr. Emanuel in particular for this fine article honoring America's finest. God Bless them and their loved ones. All will be in my prayers.
-- Jim Karr
U.S. Army, 1966-70
To Mr. Emanuel, I say thank you for your fine article. To the heroes mentioned and to all the others unmentioned I also say thank you.
I have printed the article and will take it home this evening and make it clear to my sons, 13 and 9, that they must read the article and discuss it briefly with Dad before setting about Memorial Day fun. School is dismissed today, but they have one more assignment awaiting them this evening.
Thanks again. I am left speechless and stunned after reading about these brave and faithful warriors.
-- Dave Mills
Thank you for the outstanding reminder that America still does have incredible heroes. To so willingly sacrifice their own lives for their friends is extraordinarily moving and raises my pride in our military to new levels. I was personally reminded of that pride when I attended a military retirement ceremony for one of my friends yesterday. He worked in the personnel office and never had the opportunity to deploy or face the dangers of a battlefield. But his high moral courage, personal integrity, and his love for the people he worked with not only set a standard of excellence in his unit but his presence brought out the best in everyone around him. He simply pulled the goodness out of them. The heart-felt comments made by his fellow workers and his family at the ceremony made me realize that he is one of those heroes that will also not be soon forgotten. Master Sergeant Andre Mickens is owed a debt of gratitude for his enduring 25 years of service to this nation. There will be no glory this side of heaven, but I for one am so thankful for Andre and others of his kind who dedicate their lives to strengthen our nation.
-- Lt. Col. Rick Hensley, USAF (retired)
Colorado Springs, Colorado
I'm sure you're going to get a LOT of mail on this powerful story. I won't belabor the point that many writers better than me will make. I will simply quote a verse from a Coldplay song:
Down your face
When you loose something
You cannot replace.
These irreplaceable men and women serving the country in Iraq and Afghanistan are incredible. I need to go bawl...
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Crying in Eden, Utah
I would like to thank Jeff Emanuel for doing the job the American Mainstream Media won't do. Early on in this war I dedicated some of my decreasing memory cells to always remember the names of the men awarded the Medal of Honor in this conflict. Why? I knew the MSM media would almost ignore the actions of these brave men. I would like to add two names to Mr. Emanuel's list that I'm sure he only left off due to space constraints: Sgt 1st Class Paul Smith, USA, awarded the Medal of Honor for actions very similar to those of Lt. Audie Murphy in the ETO. And Sgt Raphael Peralta, USMC, under consideration for the Medal of Honor for smothering a grenade with his body. The MSM should be profiling the courage of men like these this Memorial Day, but they won't. I'll raise a glass to these men this weekend, and also to Jeff Emanuel for profiling some of them.
Does the Spectator have Bev Gunn and Diane Smith on salary? If not, Why not?
-- J.R. Horning, MSgt, Retired
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Thank you for Jeff Emanuel's "The Lost Heroes of the War on Terror." These amazing young men demonstrate more clearly than anything possible the great gulf between their culture and that of the enemy. Those heroes sacrificed their lives that other may live; the enemy kills himself for the sole purpose of murdering others.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Thanks to Mr. Emanuel for bringing together in one place the stories of these brave men and their incredible sacrifice -- and for reminding at least one old man what selfless love in practice can accomplish.
God bless the memories of these four heroes and those of every other man or woman in the armed services who've laid down their lives. And God bless all those who serve and who have served.
I pray we never forget them and that we turn around what appears to be increasing national ingratitude for what all these men and women have done and are doing.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia
Excellent article -- thank you so much for writing about these few brave, heroic men. These are real heroes! God Bless our troops, may He keep them safe and bless them with His wisdom and strength. Memorial Day -- a day of remembrance of those who died for our Freedom!
I know the list is long, of the men and women that we SHOULD be on a first name basis with, may I please add the Army's Sergeant First Class Paul Smith?
That discipline would be put to the task in a small courtyard less than a mile from the Baghdad airport. Sergeant Smith was leading about three dozen men who were using a courtyard next to a watchtower to build a temporary jail for captured enemy prisoners. As they were cleaning the courtyard, they were surprised by about a hundred of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard.
With complete disregard for his own life and under constant enemy fire, Sergeant Smith rallied his men and led a counterattack. Seeing that his wounded men were in danger of being overrun, and that enemy fire from the watchtower had pinned them down, Sergeant Smith manned a 50-caliber machine gun atop a damaged armor vehicle. From a completely exposed position, he killed as many as 50 enemy soldiers as he protected his men.
Sergeant Smith's leadership saved the men in the courtyard, and he prevented an enemy attack on the aid station just up the road. Sergeant Smith continued to fire and took a -- until he took a fatal round to the head. His actions in that courtyard saved the lives of more than 100 American soldiers.
Scripture tells us, as the General said, that a man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. And that is exactly the responsibility Paul Smith believed the Sergeant stripes on his sleeve had given him. In a letter he wrote to his parents but never mailed, he said that he was prepared to "give all that I am to ensure that all my boys make it home."
On this day two years ago, Sergeant Smith gave his all for his men. Five days later, Baghdad fell, and the Iraqi people were liberated. And today, we bestow upon Sergeant Smith the first Medal of Honor in the war on terror. He's also the first to be awarded this new Medal of Honor flag, authorized by the United States Congress. We count ourselves blessed to have soldiers like Sergeant Smith, who put their lives on the line to advance the cause of freedom and protect the American people.
Like every one of the men and women in uniform who have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sergeant Paul Smith was a volunteer. We thank his family for the father, husband and son and brother who can never be replaced. We recall with appreciation the fellow soldiers whose lives he saved, and the many more he inspired. And we express our gratitude for a new generation of Americans, every bit as selfless and dedicated to liberty as any that has gone on before -- a dedication exemplified by the sacrifice and valor of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith.
-- From President Bush's Presentation of the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Smith's wife and children.
There are hundreds, thousands of heroes. Some live to tell the tale themselves, for too many, it is left to those that survived battle to bear the scars and the burden of telling. It took years for the full telling of the incidents in Somalia to be told. To remember the heroes and the fallen.
LET NOT THIS DAY PASS THAT WE FORGET THESE NEW HEROES.
-- Sandra Dent
Jeff Emanuel's column about the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their comrades was moving. My heart goes out to the loved ones they left behind, and I note here my honor and respect for the heroes.
I found it interesting that none of the men cited by Mr. Emanuel was honored for valor in attacking and subduing an enemy force They gave their all in defense of their fellows, which, of course, is no less heroic than charging an enemy position and destroying it. However, I have to wonder at how Mr. Emanuel's examples collectively seem to reflect the ethos of limited engagements and minimal infliction of casualties and damage upon our enemies, which seem to be the guiding lights of our military in the modern age.
Did Mr. Emanuel choose these particular men because there were available no examples of offensive heroism to be culled from the actions in Iraq? Was he motivated by some pacifistic sort of notion that the greatest good is to be found among those who save lives without taking them? He doesn't say, and I can only guess. Even the valor cited in Mogadishu was played out in an effort to rescue an undermanned, out-gunned, politically correct military operation. Is the sole measure of valor now a reflection of our leaders' willingness to let our military be used as punching bags?
In previous letters to this page, I've lamented the unwillingness of our political leaders to authorize our military to do what it takes to subdue a hostile force and population. In this era of smart weapons, our President has trumpeted the avoidance of damage to Iraq's infrastructure and civilian population, while leaving unmolested those very persons who provide support and cover for terrorist operations. I've read of restrictive rules of engagement that prevent our troops from taking the initiative in destroying potential threats until the equivalent of political commissars rule on whether the proposed actions pass muster as politically correct. As an aside, I have to wonder just what the rules of engagement are, and why they aren't familiar to one and all. Is it possible that if they were widely known the American people would rebel at the limitations put on our troops?
This is no way to win a war, and by golly, we are not winning this war. Instead, we've stirred up a hornets' nest of resistance and hostility, while leaving our troops to sort out the good guys from the bad while under fire. In the meantime, we feed and provide medical care for Iraqis who, in many cases, live more comfortable lives than they've ever known before.
While by no means diminishing the sacrifices of the warriors cited by Mr. Emanuel, I'd like to see some accounts of soldiers who've distinguished themselves by going out and kicking some enemy butt, if such a thing is allowed at all in the modern military. Enough of this "kinder, gentler" brand of war where our guys fight with one hand tied behind their backs while looking over their shoulders for a nod of political approval.
Mr. Bush seldom misses a chance to whine that those who question his policies don't support the troops. Horsefeathers! He runs this war as if he were standing for election among the Iraqis (much as he appears to be among the Mexicans). If he wants his surge of troops to make a difference, let's have a surge of bare knuckles offensive operations without regard for civilian casualties or collateral damage. Otherwise, let's just concede that half-measures don't win wars and bring our troops home where they won't find it necessary to jump on grenades.
I recall the scene in the movie Sergeant York in which the hero accounts for his slaughter of German troops despite his pacifist nature. He reasoned that by taking out the enemy machine gun nests he would save the lives of his comrades who were being cut down by their murderous cross-fire. It seems that Mr. Bush would have tried to quell the enemy menace by holding his fire and promising the German soldiers elections and maybe the 1918 equivalent of DVD players for all. He'd have been about as successful as he's been in Iraq, and his squad would have been slaughtered. No Medals of Honor would have been awarded, and the German soldiers would still be laughing.
-- Mark Fallert
Jeff Emanuel replies:
While there are several well-made points in Mr. Fallert's letter, the question raised in the third paragraph of his letter seems to hint that the point of the article was missed. Far from being "motivated by some pacifistic sort of notion that the greatest good is to be found among those who save lives without taking them," I chose to highlight the men that I did because they all had one thing in common which I felt should stand as the centerpiece of this Memorial Day: Each of them, in the face of enemy fire, and in a situation from which they could have emerged unscathed, chose instead to save the men around them rather than to save themselves. Focusing on these men and their acts does not sell short the acts of those who perish in defense of this country, be it in offensive operations or in any other way.
The two men mentioned who were killed in action in Somalia, MSGs Shughart and Gordon, were included in passing because, as I said in the article, they were the last pre-GWOT recipients of the Medal of Honor. That they gave their lives in defense of another, rather than charging a mass of Somali fighters, does not mean that the "measure of valor" has been defined down or made more politically correct; on the contrary, the fact that the men of our military would knowingly sacrifice themselves to give another a chance at survival shows just how valorous our servicemen and women really are, and I urge those who may look on the rewarding and celebrating of such sacrifices as a sign of American weakness to reconsider their notions of valor and of heroism entirely.
Mr. Fallert's third and fourth paragraphs, on the other hand, reflect an unfortunate reality that our soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere are facing, as the "unwillingness of our political leaders to authorize our military to do what it takes to subdue a hostile force" is a very real fact. During my recent stint as an embedded journalist in Iraq, the most common complaint that I heard from the soldiers on the front lines in this war was that their hands were being tied via overly restrictive Rules of Engagement.
While the Iraqi populace as a whole is not overtly hostile to our forces (in fact, the vast majority is not), the fact is that, until the average man, woman, and child living in Iraq makes the decision that people in Anbar Province, and in Abu Dischir in Baghdad, have made -- the decision to stand up to al Qaeda, to the hardline Sadrists, and to the other groups and individuals who would sacrifice Iraq's future for a bit of power or a victory against the West, and to take control of their own lives and destiny -- then we will be fighting a losing battle on the ground in that country. Allowing our military -- the best fighting force in the world, which would never lose a battle were our enemies foolhardy enough to fight in the open -- to take the gloves off, so to speak, and to respond to force with force, without being handicapped by a debilitating concern for "world opinion," is a step in the right direction not only in making a larger impact in the battle against our enemies, but also in convincing the Iraqi people that we are serious about pacifying and securing their country -- something of which they must be convinced before they fully "buy into" what we are offering, and really begin to do their part.
In closing, while I disagree with Mr. Fallert's characterization of the lionizing of those who give their lives to save others as being a "pacifist" message, I believe that one of his points is unquestionably accurate: that "half-measures don't win wars."
Re: Lawrence Henry's The New Me:
Good for you and I will watch for you over NASCAR races, give me a wave. Life is terminal and you need to go out happy.
I pray that I never have to go to the end of my life being miserable. I figure I am not going to get out of life alive, so don't want to stop eating the foods I enjoy. Will not let my doctor test my cholesterol, I am almost 69 and just don't want to know. My mom was 89, died in her bed, just went to sleep and did not wake up, she lived alone and had bacon and eggs almost everyday. Enjoy life. Everyone dies of something.
-- Elaine Kyle
Sounds lovely -- sounds a bit like On Golden Pond and 59 seems a little young for that. But Larry knows best.
I do worry about wife -- who fears Southern accents and Bud, who may be too intelligent for your run of-the-mill Southern boys. (Knowledge gleaned from Henry's past articles.)
I will enjoy the chronicling of Mr. Henry's conversion to delectable southern cooking. No more ruining Thanksgiving with stuffing made of brown rice and hummus. If he thinks kicking narcotic painkillers was hard, just wait till he is hooked on low country feasting,
Good luck and good eats -- as that Alton Brown fella says! He picked a perfect spot to build a new body.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California
DOWN THE MIDDLE
Re: Larry Thornberry's Happy Birthday, Duke:
The article by Larry Thornberry states that John Wayne's middle name was Robert, I have always heard and read that his real middle name was Michael. Have I been wrong all these years, or is the author mistaken?
Excellent article about one of my favorite actors.
-- Don Bennett
Larry Thornberry replies:
The name business is confusing, at least partly thanks to the Duke himself. When he was born to Clyde and Mary Morrison, young Duke was named Marion Robert after his paternal grandfather. Later, at the birth of the couple's second and last child, little Duke's name was changed to Marion Mitchell to honor both grandfathers. Later in life the Duke would say that he started out as Marion Michael, but there's no basis for this.
Neither the Duke nor later movie producers liked the name Marion very much, for reasons that aren't hard to figure out. The young Marion Morrison, and the later movie star, liked to be called by the nickname, Duke. Always preferred it to "John," or "Mr. Wayne."
Some local firemen in Glendale, California, where the Morrison family moved in 1916, pinned the sobriquet on their young friend after Marion's pet Airedale, also named Duke. The firemen took to calling the dog Little Duke and the boy Big Duke. And it stuck for a lifetime.
Re: John Tabin's Star Wars' Libertarian Mission:
"Star Wars' Libertarian Mission" is a strong contender for the geekiest article to ever run in the Spectator.
-- Sean Higgins
I enjoyed John Tabin's piece on Star Wars, but his assertion that U.S. railroads were nationalized in 1970 is inaccurate and confusing. Is he referring to:
Amtrak? Amtrak, established by a 1970 act (and taking effect May 1, 1971) took over passenger service from most US railroads (Southern, Rock Island, Georgia RR, and Rio Grande stayed out), but no railroads were "nationalized" in the creation of Amtrak.
Conrail? Conrail was a merger of bankrupt northeastern railroads (Penn Central [which included NYC, PRR, and the New Haven], Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh & Hudson River, Lehigh Valley, and Reading) which began operation in 1976, not 1970. While Conrail was federally funded for its first few years, federal funding ended in mid-1981, and Conrail was divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX in 1998 (Conrail survives as a switching and terminal railroad in locations where both NS and CSX operate). Again, Conrail can scarcely be called "nationalization."
Although some people in that period believed that nationalizing the railroads was the only solution after years of neglect, mismanagement, union obstruction, and overtaxing (read any Trains magazine issue from 1969-1973 for proof: I have plenty of them in my personal library), it didn't happen.
-- Mark Edward Soper
Evansville, Indiana (son of a steam engine fireman and nephew of a diesel engineer)
Editor's note: Last Friday, on AmSpecBlog, Mr. Tabin posted this clarification: "A couple of readers take issue with my assertion in today's dweeb-out that 'U.S. railroads were nationalized in 1970.' I was referring to the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, which spawned Amtrak. Under this law, the government took over passenger service from the private railroads. I did not mean to suggest that U.S. railroads were entirely nationalized, and should have been clearer."
BENDING THE RULES
Re: Mark Tooley's Gender Benders:
These preachers that change gender are seeking fulfillment through an operation rather than through God. Mr. Tooley quoted Genesis, that God made man and woman. I think that 1 Corinthians 17 also has some relevance:
1 Corinthians 7:17-20: Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.
Paul was talking about Gentiles coming to Christ and whether they needed to follow the Jewish law of circumcision. The issue there was two competing views of the commands of God. However, the verse seems relevant here since secular relativism is the competing viewpoint for most people today including for many preachers that have lost their way. It is a sad thing that Mr. Tooley discusses. A lost sheep should not be a shepherd.
-- Greg F
Delray Beach, FL
Editors, I've had it. I've had it up to here. I'm tired of hearing about transwhatevers, Amexico, leftocraticans, and Islamaniacs! The only thing left to do at this point is for every state that feels like it still wants to be American, I mean the real America that our forefathers left us to protect, preserve, and promote, and that is to secede from the union. There won't be any need for a war between the states again because we'll all be doing the same thing. Washington can run what's left. We can have all the same laws that used to be the ones that made America great, parent run schools, Christian churches, apple pie, and the girl next door won't be selling pot this time, and our own guardsmen to make up our own military. We can trade amongst each other and exclude anyone we damn well please, and as far as gasoline is concerned, Louisiana has plenty to sell to the other states. We can call ourselves the "United States of America" and we will be united. We'll be united against illegal aliens, and terrorists because anyone who wants to get in will have to ask permission....
And to think those silly old Apostles were content merely with changing bread and wine....
-- Martin Owens
CONSPIRACY IN DENMARK
Re: Brian Zebeaune's letter (under "The Truth Is Out There?") in Reader Mail's Literary Peanuts
Wow, what a bizarre letter. I'll chalk up the Dane Brian Zebeaune's cryptic letter to a "lost in translation" problem.
I guess he was trying to say that journalists who decry the bunk of the 9/11 deniers are the real deniers of "the evidence." Oh, and we should be mindful that their delusional hoards are growing in numbers, so we'd best be careful what we say here in the United States of America where 9/11 actually happened because we're beginning to sound like Soviet Russia when we call the deniers delusional. You see, the Europeans are so much smarter than we American dolts are, so stop ridiculing the ridiculous.
Please, Mr. Zebeaune, go read Popular Mechanics' scientific debunking of the movie Loose Change.
And why I should have to tell a grownup that he's been reading some very strange conspiracy theories is truly beyond me, except that perhaps G. K. Chesterton's famous observation that when men cease to believe in God they'll believe in anything, probably explains Europe's growing delusional hoards (as well as those in the U.S. like Rosie O'Donnell.)
Why would anyone think that a U.S. president, who loves his country and only wants to serve his country, could willfully fabricate a horrendous terrorist attack on his own country? Only a truly sick mind trying to find "reasons" that are more comforting to him than the reality: our Western civilization is in a fight for its life with Islamofascists. Well, whatever trips your trigger, Mr. Zebeaune. Europe was in denial about Hitler too, until he started invading. I'll stick with the 9/11 believers.
-- Deborah Durkee
By writing TAS with such a ridiculous response, in addition to being grammatically incoherent, I must assume Mr. Zebeaune has overcome man's greatest fear (his opinion).
After reading Mr. Zebeaune's laughable response to Mr. Hannaford's article, I decided to take him up on his offer to "look it up." I typed in "man's greatest fear" on Google and the result was interesting:
1) Wife cutting off husband's penis.
2) Public Speaking
3) The Dance Floor
5) Running out of Beer
6) Rejection in Bed
I won't even talk about #1.
I happen to agree with #3.
One other should be added to this list: Mr. Zebeaune and his ilk.
-- Jim Cadden
Re: Christopher Orlet's None Is Less:
My thanks to Christopher Orlet for enlightening me on St. Louis and its collection of modernist homes. As a native and former Missouri State Historic Preservation Officer, I learned quite a bit I should have already known.
-- G. Tracy Mehan, III
As a licensed full-time Realtor, a real estate irony happens almost every time I observe a competitor's ads that state they are a "specialist" of "Historic Homes" or, have completed some kind of "Historical Designation" education. This competitor continually misnames the architecture style of their very own home (that they use in their ads), and has led builder's efforts on many occasion's in our neighborhood to tear down some of our oldest and most historically significant houses to build newer and larger homes lacking the style of the "old historic" stuff...Somewhat akin to burning your family photos.
The end result has been a "Historic District" mandate from the City's Planner's that now makes for a more stringent, costly and time consuming permit process for even modest and necessary exterior and interior improvements.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
"and, yes, even, real estate agents..."
You've got to be kidding. Whoever heard of a real estate agent with any aesthetic sensibility or social conscience? And I'm sure there's not a one that would ever visit this website, have conservative views, and care about anybody but themselves.
-- Robert Carriere, REALTORÂ®
SHARING THE ROAD
Re: Eric Peters's Big Oil Outslicked:
I am writing in response to Eric Peters's article "Big Oil Outslicked." My first response is that Big Oil should be allowed to charge whatever they want for gasoline. Price controls were a disaster.
However, my second response is that I strongly disagree with Mr. Peters's complaint about so-called high gas taxes and the use of gas taxes to subsidize mass transit and clean up pollution. On the contrary, the gasoline taxes in most states (including my home state of Missouri), as well as the federal gasoline tax, are far too low. Most cities and nearly all suburbs, including my hometown of Kansas City and its suburbs, have no gas tax at all. Basically, they use property taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and other taxes to pay for roads and give us car drivers a free lunch! Gasoline taxes and tolls are the only fair way to pay for roads. Moreover, they should also be used to subsidize affordable mass transit (bus and rail), which helps reduce traffic congestion and wear and tear on the roads. Using gas taxes to clean up pollution is another legitimate use. Finally, I will agree with Mr. Peters that it is wrong to use federal gas taxes collected in one state to pay for roads in another state, but that can be prevented by adding a law against such an injustice. We car drivers should stop demanding a free lunch and start paying our fair share.
-- Kent Karmeier
Kansas City, Missouri
ARMED AND DANGEROUS
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s The Worst Book of the Year:
Your article is brilliant and true. Carter's only meaningful achievement was helping Ronald Reagan get elected. For this and only this may we be grateful to him. I have written to several of his board members at their places of business to lodge my objections. Thank you for providing another potent word-weapon to deploy.
-- Will Oiubeccia
I agree with you regarding the article about Jimmy Carter. He is a very arrogant man. As you say, he is a very mean-spirited person that actually believes the things he says. I was happy to see this article. It is about time that Mr. Carter got some flak regarding some of the preposterous things he says. He never would have been President without the left-wing media giving him more attention than he deserved and actually giving him credibility that he did not deserve. Keep up the good work!!!
-- Gary Shedd
Re: Pat Callum's letter (under "Blame It on McCain") in Reader Mail's Literary Peanuts:
An amusing letter from Pat Callum regarding John McCain. I'm not a big McCain fan for most of the reasons he states in his letter. But, he's being a little disingenuous regarding McCain's military career. So he finished last in his class at the Naval Academy. You know what the call the guy who finished last in med school? "Doctor." As for wrecking three planes, were they a result of poor airmanship? Certainly he's not blaming McCain for being on the receiving end of a hot missile accidentally launched on board the Forrestal from which he barely escaped with his life. And over 160 others did not. Is that the fire that Callum refers to? It couldn't be the fire on the Oriskany, that occurred after he left the ship. And as for getting himself shot down, come on Mr. Callum, that's called combat. You can fault McCain all you want as a politician, I do. But, you have to cut him slack for his military service. He's a genuine hero.
-- Jerry McDonald