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“Exactly. The most significant development of 11 September is that it marks the day America began to fight back: 9/11 is not just Pearl Harbor but also the Doolittle Raid, all wrapped up in 90 minutes. No one will ever again hijack an American airliner with boxcutters, or, I’ll bet, with anything else — not […]
It was a hot day in a dusty city, Tbilisi the Capital of Georgia, there was little power and anarchy ruled in the streets. An oasis of calm, like a castle of old, stood on a hill just inside the eastern edge of the city the Sheraton “Metechi Palace” Hotel. With generators and money to burn the Hotel always had power and the owners of the Hotel were connected. The most powerful criminal organization in the country the “Knights” or Mkhedrioni provided security to the grounds. The American Embassy rented out entire floors and had their own security, among them were Delta Force Operators, and Freddie Woodruff long-time Soviet Expert and CIA Station Chief in charge of the Delta Force mission and charged with monitoring the KGB led drug trade through Georgia.
As a child, I was addicted to a series of biographies written for children. They were undersized volumes, with a textured blue cover and the name of the featured person written in a kind of script. One of those books told the story of Clara Barton. Her courage, determination, and devotion to the soldiers of the Civil War have stayed with me all these years.
“As the founder of Judaism, Abraham gives us a vision of what it is to live directly and immediately in the presence of G-d, who knows our thoughts, our hopes, our fears, our dreams. This involves a radically new kind of heroism: the heroism of ordinary life, of decency and goodness, integrity and faithfulness, the humble, unostentatious heroism of being willing to live by one’s convictions though all the world thinks otherwise, being true to the call of eternity, not the noise of now.” — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Covenant & Conversation
We knew Joe through his wife, who was also called Jo. Joe was her second husband; she knew him through an organization to which her first husband belonged; both men were prisoners of war. When Jo’s first husband died, Joe eventually courted her and Jo and Joe were married.
A couple of weeks ago, Joe passed away. Both of them had been knocked down by a nasty strain of the flu; Joe didn’t make it. He had been unwell for a while, suffering for years from maladies such as a recurrent type of dysentery and vertigo, results of his year as a POW in a Nazi camp. In spite of the trials he’d been through back then, he was funny and engaged with others. His funeral was yesterday.
Joe was a radioman in a B17, shot down over Germany. He was in the camp for one very long year, going from 159 pounds to 89 pounds. One person at the funeral shared how much he loved Joe’s stories. He even cracked a joke when the Nazis picked him up after parachuting into enemy territory. His joke was met with the butt of a rifle. He was featured in a news story with other Daytona Beach veterans three years ago on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.
Before you do anything else, read Kevin Creighton’s post about the personal lessons one should take from the Paris Attacks; Kevin knows what he’s talking about and please defer to his expertise should anything I say conflict with it. That said, people are often warned not to “try to be a hero” in a terrorist attack or shooting spree. There is some wisdom in this, depending on precisely what one has in mind by “hero.” As Kevin says, one’s first duty isn’t to engage the killer, but to remove oneself — and those under one’s protection — from danger as quickly and safely as possible, though “further action is up to you and the circumstances you’re in.” In other words, focus on saving lives and don’t be an idiot. Sometimes, as we saw on the French train earlier this year, that means stopping the killer directly, though not everyone will be in a position to do so.
Though we’re still in the early days of this — which means that some stories may not entirely check out — it appears some people, having removed themselves from imminent danger, made the evaluation Kevin suggests and decided to return to save others. Via the New York Times, here’s an amazing account both of what happened in the Bataclan theater:
Some months back, Steven Pinker made the insightful (if somewhat obvious) observation that the simplest way of gaining attention, fame, and glory is to murder others in a sensational fashion. As this is not terribly difficult to do, it should be of little surprise that a handful of people will turn schools and other public places into temples where the innocent are sacrificed to a god of narcissism. The wonder of it is that it does not happen more often.
Congratulations to Captain Sarah Cudd for reminding us that heroism and self-sacrifice are truly gender-neutral. In the closing moments of a grueling 12-mile road march, Army Capt. Sarah Cudd fell to her knees. She was exhausted, bowed over by the heavy pack on her back and seemingly unable to continue. Preview Open
Once again, C. U. is here to comment on pop culture because other than work and expecting a baby he has nothing better to do. Someone get that man a hobby, please. Now, aside from ceasing to refer to myself in third person, allow me to say that I’m not a fan of reality television. It’s […]
I had soldiers on my mind this morning as I went for a brisk walk in the cemetery across from my house. Victor Davis Hanson is partially to blame. I read his fine NRO piece this week about the upcoming 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and it stuck with me.
But that’s not the only reason my thoughts have been full of marines, sailors, and infantrymen. I’ve also been working my way through the HBO miniseries The Pacific about Raritan, New Jersey’s own John Basilone, who won both the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle for Henderson Field on Guadalcanal in 1942 and (posthumously) the Navy Cross for his valor at Iwo Jima in 1945. The series is not great, but Basilone is undoubtedly a true American hero and it is right and proper that somebody should make a movie about his life. (My dad would want you to know that Raritan is just 20 miles down Rt. 287 from my hometown of Morristown.)
In the cemetery this morning, I came across some yet-to-be-cleared wreaths from my town’s Memorial Day commemoration. I want to share one of them with you: