Today is Flag Day and I hope everyone takes time to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and remind ourselves of the greatness represented by this simple symbol of liberty and freedom. However, our flag wouldn’t have such a grand history if not for something else we celebrate today: the 238th birthday of the United States Army. The US Army’s simple creed says “This We’ll Defend” so how appropriate that we recognize the flag and those who take the oath to support and defend it – on the same day. From the day the Minutemen answered the call to Lexington and Concord, to those who answer the call today to deployments worldwide, the American flag has been that herald of liberty, not oppression. Army men and women leave the warmth and shelter of their homes not as conquerors, but as liberators. I’m often asked what title do I prefer, Congressman or Colonel? Well, I seek to be a good Christian, husband, and Daddy, but I shall always prefer the title American soldier — a title I share with my Dad and nephew. Happy Birthday, Army Strong!
Former Congressman Allen West received the Center for Security Policy’s 2013 Freedom Flame Award. The Freedom Flame Award recognizes individuals who have exemplified the ideals of freedom, democracy, economic opportunity and international strength to which the Center for Security Policy is committed. The Award acknowledges the past contributions of its recipients while serving as a reminder that the goals for which they have worked so valiantly require the continuing, unflagging efforts of those who follow in their footsteps
Col. Allen West reviews the current scandals in Washington, D.C., and is amazed by the ease with which government officials lie, mislead and intimidate. Whether it is the Benghazi talking points, or the recently revealed NSA PRISM program, Col. West wonders whether the federal government is truly acting with the consent of the governed.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District is determined to limit the IRS’ ability to enforce the Affordable Care Act, and talks to Col. West about the two-page bill he introduced in the House that would do just that. In addition, Col. West takes advantage of Rep. Price’s background as a physician to ask about the heartbreaking case of the 10-year-old girl denied a lung transplant over the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s “Under-12″ rule. Can government bureaucracies keep pace with medical science?
As I ponder the NSA records data mining episode here are my thoughts. This is like carpet bombing vs. precision attack. Can someone explain why we weren’t listening to Anwar-al-Awlaki and his conversations with Major Nidal Hasan? Why weren’t we able to track Carlos Bledsoe’s travel to Somalia and Yemen to receive terrorist training? Why didn’t we pay attention to warning signs of Abdul Mutallab (underwear bomber) with a one-way ticket and little baggage traveling from Nigeria to America? Why weren’t we paying attention to the Tsarnaev brothers’ travels and connections to Chechen Islamic terrorism — heck Russia warned us? Why is it that in October 2011, 57 Islamic organizations — several with ties to Muslim Brotherhood — sent a letter to then counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan demanding we purge training materials and punish instructors they deemed “offensive” and we didn’t say “shove it” and target THEIR records? We’d rather carpet bomb Americans to cover our cowardice in confronting Islamic extremism. Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Now and then I like to share with you some items of hypocrisy when it comes to our government. I just received another notice from the US House of Representatives Committee on Ethics relating to the Ethics in Government Act. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. It seems they want me to file another financial disclosure statement since I departed the Congress, and they threatened me with a $200 fine. Now would it just be simple to ask, are there any changes from your last statement? However, consider this, did anyone ask the IRS to submit a financial disclosure statement after 225 conferences over the past two years at the cost of $50 million to the American taxpayer? Did anyone ask Secretary of State John Kerry to file a financial disclosure statement after giving the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood government American taxpayer dollars — after Congress had stated no? So actually, why should I file a financial disclosure statement since the DOJ, IRS, and NSA can just secretly get all my financial, phone, email records anyway. Welcome to the hypocrisy of our Federal Government. This is similar to Satan asking Reverend Billy Graham to disclose his church attendance records. And yes, I will be calling my former colleague Rep. Michael Conaway, Chairman of the Committee on Ethics.
When ‘Freedom’s Flame’ Burned Bright A brief history of the battles of Midway and D-Day
This week the Center for Security Policy honored me with its 2013 “Freedom’s Flame” award — two years after giving me the greater honor of delivering a short tribute to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon as the “Keeper of the Flame.” Receiving the award has special meaning for me because our American history this week is all about freedom’s flame.
Too many schools fail to teach our children our history – and especially to have pride in our history. This is not just in our middle and high schools but also in our colleges and universities. Too many of our teachers and instructors also believe our country has been wrong throughout our history, and they convey their subjective perspectives to our young people.
Let us begin by remembering a small island atoll in the Pacific called Midway. The United States suffered a horrible attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the following day, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his “date which will live in infamy” speech.
America soon responded in the daring Doolittle raid on Japan on April 18, 1942, showing that America was not defeated and that we would strike back. However, we suffered a tough defeat May 7-8 at the Battle of Coral Sea, and the Imperial Japanese Navy fleet made its way back across the Pacific with its eyes upon a strategic location with a ready made airfield, Midway.
Admiral Yamamoto commanded the fleet, which possessed heavy confidence of aircraft carrier superiority. Indeed, the USS Yorktown was badly damaged at the Battle of Coral Sea and limped back to its home station for repair. The damage assessment after the battle predicted that it would take months to repair the ship and make it battle ready.
Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, knew we did not have months, and industrious Americans restored the Yorktown in 72 hours. It set sail to join the USS Enterprise and USS Hornet near Midway Island.
Thanks to naval cryptologists and PBY search and reconnaissance aircraft, Americans spotted the Japanese fleet. And from June 4 to June 7, one of the greatest naval battles took place near that flat atoll.
A truly classic study in naval maneuvers and carrier tactics ensued, something this ole Army doggie would be hard-pressed to understand and certainly to explain. But the key is that the carrier USS Yorktown made the difference. Even though it eventually sunk, the carrier made a vital contribution.
Military historian John Keegan called the Battle of Midway “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.” It was Japan’s worst naval defeat in 350 years and a decisive turning point in the Pacific theater of operations. The battle set the stage for the Solomon Islands campaign — first stop Guadalcanal, where heroism was defined.
The defining battles against the Nazis
Two years later during the same week, America and its British, Canadian and French allies embarked upon the greatest invasion known, “Operation Overlord.” We remember it as D-Day on June 5-6 — the event that finally liberated the continent of Europe from the stranglehold of the Nazis.
We all know the story – or perhaps I hopefully assume we do. The evening of June 4, men of the 82d and 101st Airborne divisions jumped into place behind German lines to disrupt and seize key crossroads so ground forces could push deep into the Normandy countryside.
Anti-aircraft fire spread the paratroopers all over the place and they missed their drop zones. But wherever they landed, they fought – even when dropped right on top of German Wehrmacht units in places like St. Mere Eglise.
They fought through the night to secure their objectives because they knew what would occur at sunrise. The Army Rangers braved the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc to take out German gun emplacements. Ronald Reagan remembered them in a breathtaking speech on the 40th anniversary of the landing.
Then as the sun rose, landing craft launched and scores of brave young Americans hit the beach. They were from all over our great land and wore patches of the 1st and 29th Infantry divisions on Omaha beach. They wore the ivy patch of the 4th Infantry Division, “Steadfast and Loyal,” on Utah Beach, where Army Brigadier Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. landed with the assault force and was later killed in combat.
Despite massive casualties, allied forces prevailed. Within the year, Germany surrendered and Europe was liberated from the Nazis and the horrible specter of the Holocaust.
A week to remember sacrifices of the past
This week in American history is all about men and women who fought to ensure freedom’s flame was never extinguished. We should remember this week with pride and never forget their sacrifices. I am amazed that some countries celebrate the sacrifices of America greater than America celebrates them herself.
This week, if you are in the Washington, D.C., area, take the time to visit the World War II Memorial and gaze upon the tribute to the Battles of Midway and Normandy. If you just happen to get a chance to look at a piece of history, a World War II veteran, go up to him and shake his hand.
You may not have much longer to recognize them in person. Just this week we lost our last World War II veteran serving in Congress, New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Parents and grandparents, if you cannot make it to the capital, sit down with the next generation this week and watch the films about that era: “Midway,” “The Longest Day,” “Saving Private Ryan” or the mini-series “Band of Brothers.”
The next generation must never forget the sacrifices of those before them in order to keep freedom’s flame burning brighter than ever. And let those sacrifices inspire us to greater exertions to guarantee that their sacrifices were not in vain.
69 years ago today, over 160,000 soldiers, including 73,000 Americans, landed in France for D-day, the largest amphibious invasion in history. It was a monumental undertaking against the forces of tyranny. Within a year, Germany was defeated and Europe liberated. During my military career, I had the honor of serving in both the 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions, carrying on the great legacy of these divisions who landed on Omaha Beach. I find contemporary resonance in the words of Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt III who, undaunted by the fact he landed on the wrong beach, said “We will start the war from right here!” Against those who would crush the freedoms and liberty we cherish, we must stand and fight, wherever we find ourselves. Those who fought and died on June 6, 1944 did so for us. We owe the same to the next generation.