If you would like to add a comment to any of the threads here on AADB, registration with blogspot.com is not required. Simply click on the ‘comments’ link at the bottom of an essay, and either enter a nickname under ‘choose an identity’ or post your comment anonymously. Serious comments are always welcome.


Below are the two final essays to be posted on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed. The first one is written by a friend -- screen name 'Euro-American Scum' -- who, over the past four years, has been the most faithful essayist here. He has written about everything from his pilgrimage to Normandy in 2004 to take part in the 60th–year commemoration of the invasion, to his memories of his tour in Vietnam. His dedication to America’s founding principles ... and those who have sacrificed to preserve them over the past 200+ years ... is unequaled. Thank you, E-A-S. It has been a privilege to include your writing here, and it is a privilege to call you my friend.

The second essay is my own farewell. And with it I thank all of the many regular visitors, and those who may have only dropped in occasionally, for coming here. I hope you learned something. I hope a seed or two was planted. But, even if not, I thank you for stopping by ... 25 March, 2010


I offer sincere and heartfelt personal thanks to friends and passersby who have added their thoughts to mine over the past year on Allegiance and Duty Betrayed, both here on the blog and via e-mail to me, personally. The overwhelming majority of feedback has been extraordinarily encouraging, affirming and uplifting … and for that I am very grateful!

Maintaining a site such as this, in the way that I had originally intended, requires a significant allotment of time. As some of you may have noticed, I have not been able to keep things ‘fresh’ here recently, in the same way that I used to. Real world responsibilities have prevented me from doing so.

Since those responsibilities will not be diminishing anytime soon, and, since I do not like to do anything half-heartedly, I will be allowing this weblog to die a ‘natural death’. It will remain here, as is, as long as blogspot.com allows -- ‘for posterity’, let’s say :) -- a time capsule, of sorts. Maybe some of today’s youth will stumble upon it years from now, scratch their heads, and remark with some cynicism, ‘That’s not what I was taught in school. What were these people smoking?’

There is an enemy out there whose most powerful weapon lies in the fact that Western Civilization values human life and human potential. That enemy does not. As a result, this war of all wars is being fought on a battlefield that promises to be covered in a sea of blood whose presence we will mourn, and whose shedding they will celebrate.

Despite the ruthless character of that enemy, our most formidable enemy lies within our own borders. It consists of those whose charge it is to secure and maintain our safety and sovereignty, and yet, while claiming to be our benefactors, they are authoring our demise.

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear ... Marcus Tullius Cicero (50 B.C.)

Again, sincere and grateful thanks to those who have participated here. I know you will all keep up your efforts to unearth the truth that leftist politicians and their complicit media and academia ‘experts’ consistently attempt to bury. Doing so, through an unrelenting personal search for truth (despite encountering countless agenda-driven imposters posing as such), and the dissemination of that truth within our own neighborhoods, is our best weapon against tyranny and oppression.

Always seeking the guidance of the One who provides optimism for the future and wisdom for the day.

God’s continued blessings to you all ...

~ joanie (cw-patriot)


daveburkett said...

Joanie, I am hoping that you will not be able to stay away. Even if you only write something every few months, I'll keep pestering you to do so. You are a treasure! (You know I will keep in touch, blog or no blog.) {G}

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear. If you write anywhere else on the internet, please let us know where we can find your writing. And thank you for sharing your eloquence.

smithy said...

I wish I could convince you to continue with this. It's one of the best political blogs I've ever read. But I know how family and work commitments must come first. I'll check back here now and then to see if you've posted anything. In the mean time, thank YOU for sharing your ideas and your eloquent writing with us. It's been a privilege, Joanie!

lori_gmeiner said...

Joanie, I too will be checking in periodically to see if you post anything in the future. I suspect you'll want to when major events occur and I'll want to read your take on them. :-)

I'll keep in touch by email and please do the same! I'll miss you here--alot!


John Galt said...

You can't go. I forbid it! ;)

Seriously-thank you for all of your efforts here, CW. I hope you'll return when things lighten up in your schedule. Like others have said, I'll check in now and then, and like others have said, please let us know if you put your writing anywhere else on the internet. You need to be published somewhere!

God bless.


Anonymous said...

I can't read you on FR anymore and now I can't read you here anymore. Where the hell are you going?

Lois Bollinger said...

Our family is part of a home schooling network. We have saved quite a few of the columns here to our hard disk for use in our lessons.

I have never written here before but I want to thank you and say that you will be missed.

3timesalady said...

I knew this was coming but I'm still sad. :(

Thank you for all the excellent commentary (and far all the piano advice). ;)

We will keep in touch!

proudpodunknative said...

Wow, I wasn't expecting this. But of course "real life" has to come first. You're a gifted writer, C.W. I hope you'll continue writing somewhere. Thanks for the good times reading here and good luck to you in all you do.

Anonymous said...

There is an enemy out there whose most powerful weapon lies in the fact that Western Civilization values human life and human potential. That enemy does not. As a result, this war of all wars is being fought on a battlefield that promises to be covered in a sea of blood whose presence we will mourn, and whose shedding they will celebrate.

Despite the ruthless character of that enemy, our most formidable enemy lies within our own borders. It consists of those whose charge it is to secure and maintain our safety and sovereignty, and yet, while claiming to be our benefactors, they are authoring our demise.

I wish I had said that.

reese said...

You've expressed so eloquently what I feel personally.

God bless you

Luis said...


I am sorry that you will not be writing on this weblog any more. As someone else has already commented, I wish you could be persuaded to stay !

However I do recognise that the real world must take priority and you can certainly be commended for leaving "the stage" with the audience (your readers) calling for more !

I will miss your powerfully written, always well researched pieces and thank you for setting a high benchmark that can encourage others in various ways.

I hope that all you have written here, stays on in cyberspace for a long long time.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with all your readers around the world.

Luis (London, England)

robmaroni said...

Double dittos to all that has been said here. You will be sorely missed by all of us posters and I know many lurkers as well. :(

I am proud to call you my friend!

trustbutverify said...

I am very sorry to hear this. This is one of the very best blogs on the internet. Like others here have said, I hope you will return to writing here in time. I will be checking back in now and then to see if you do, and I hope you will provide links to your writing if it appears elsewhere on the net. Thank you and God bless you!

Anonymous said...

I will miss you. Auf Wiedersehen und viel Gluck!

Anonymous said...

People with less writing talent than you have won Pulitzers. Write more somewhere, if not here.

loubarakos said...

I applaud you, Joanie.

Sometimes we all feel like this and we need someone to put what we're feeling into words:


You do.


arlene albrecht said...

Thank you so much for all the wonderful commentaries you've written here over the past year. I have them all saved and I will come back often to see if you have started this up again.

Gob bless you Joanie.

siliconvalleyguy said...

I know you well enough to know that you'll be back. I'll be waiting to read more from you. ;)

alexib said...

I'm really going to miss your articles. They were so much better than 99% of what you read on the internet. Even though I didn't post much, I checked in here every few days and forwarded your writing to many MANY people.

I hope you'll rethink and come back soon!

2ndamendmentdefender said...

I just checked in here for my biweekly sanity "fix" and can't believe you're letting this blog die. Just writing something once a month would at least keep it up and running. Consider doing that, kiddo. We sanity junkies need a place like this. Do it for humanity. ;)

Sandra said...

What Does Love Mean?

The question, “What does love mean?" posed to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds.

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy (6)

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.” Noelle (7)

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl (5)

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my Daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.” Cindy (8)

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy (4)

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” Lauren (4)

Little Richard’s next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, Richard went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
Told by Richard (8)

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann (4)

Montypython2 said...

I don't want to sound like a broken record because of what others have said but I hope you'll post now and again. Doing that doesn't amount to "doing something half-heartedly."

When you're angry about the latest crap coming out of Washington come here and vent. You'll be doing yourself and us a favor!

I'll check back in here once a week or so. Don't disappoint me. ;)

Anonymous said...

I will truly miss you! Please come back and write when you are able to!

I copied off your global warming article and gave it to a million different people. It changed a lot of minds!

buster said...

You should put articles up here whenever you feel in the mood to write without feeling like you have an obligation to write anything. That way you won't feel under pressure and those of us who like to stop by here once in a while for a dose of "sanity" (I agree with 2ndamendmentdefender's take) can get a fix. Don't stop writing altogether.

GretaHoffman said...

Remember what the little pouty kid with the glasses said to Tom Cruise in "Jerry McGuire" when he was about to leave him and his mother?

(pouting) "Go ahead and go....go ahead and go...."

He didn't mean it and neither do I. :(

You've gathered quite a following for a personal blog. Come back, if only once or twice a month.

Anonymous said...

It looks like you're not retrieving your emails from this account anymore CW?

At any rate, I though you might like to read this re:DNDN

"Progress on New vaccine strategies for immunotherapy and prevention of cancer" J.A Berzofsky et al.


Come back soon!

marcus aurelius said...

As other here have done, I want to suggest that you write here whenever you feel moved to. Your comment about doing this "half-heartedly," while understandable, isn't necessarily so. There is a lot of valuable information and opinion here. I myself have forwarded many of the articles here to other people, and I know they have forwarded them to others.

Write when you feel moved to. Many of us will check in here periodically to see what's new.

robmaroni said...

Business American Style:

A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American company (General Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River . Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.
Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India .

Sadly, The End.

Sad, but oh so true! Here's something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US , claiming they can't make money paying American wages. Toyota has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US .

The last quarter's results: Toyota makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses. Ford folks are still scratching their heads.

Anonymous said...

Au revoir. But come back soon!

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry to see you stop this.

John Cooper said...


It's hard to see such a beautiful thing as your blog die, but we all understand. This may sound melodramatic, but for some reason a passage from the end of Atlas Shrugged comes to mind:

Hank Reardon: (thinking to himself after government thugs had destroyed his steel mill): He felt a peculiar cleanliness. It was made of pride and of love for this earth, this earth which was his, not theirs. It was the feeling which had moved him through his life, the feeling which some among men know in their youth, then betray, but which he had never betrayed and had carried within him as a battered, attacked, unidentified, but living motor - the feeling which he could now experience in its full, uncontested purity: the sense of his own superlative value and the superlative value of his life. It was the final certainty that his life was his, to be lived with no bondage to evil, and that that bondage had never been necessary, it was the radiant serenity of knowing that he was free of fear, of pain, of guilt.

(later, after Rearden disappears...)

James Taggart: "He’s quit! Gone! Gone like all the others! Left his mills, his bank accounts, his property, everything! Just Vanished! Took some clothing and whatever he had in the safe in his apartment - they found a save left open in his bedroom, open and empty - that’s all! No word, no note, no explanation! They called me from Washington, but it’s all over town! The news, I mean, the story! They can’t keep in quiet. They’ve tried to, but…Nobody knows how it got out, but it went through the mills like one of those furnace break-outs, the word that he’d gone, and then…before anyone could stop it, a whole bunch of them vanished! The superintendent, the chief metallurgist, the chief engineer, Rearden’s secretary, even the hospital doctor! And God knows how many others! Deserting, the bastards! Deserting us, in spite of all the penalties we’ve set up! He’s quit and the rest are quitting and those mills are just left there, standing still! Do you understand what that means"?

Dagny Taggart: "Do you"?
Thank you Joanie for the gift you have given us all, and may God bless you.


Al said...

Talk about BETRAYAL

Deal May Legalize Millions of Immigrants



WASHINGTON (AP) - In a striking reach across party lines, the White House and key lawmakers agreed Thursday on a sweeping immigration plan to grant legal status to millions of people in the country unlawfully.

Sealed after months of secretive bargaining, the deal mandates bolstered border security and a high-tech employment verification system to prevent illegal workers from getting jobs.

President Bush said the proposal would "help enforce our borders but equally importantly, it'll treat people with respect."

Al said...

Global warming debunked
By ANDREW SWALLOW - The Timaru Herald | Saturday, 19 May 2007


Climate change will be considered a joke in five years time, meteorologist Augie Auer told the annual meeting of Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in Ashburton this week.
Man's contribution to the greenhouse gases was so small we couldn't change the climate if we tried, he maintained.
"We're all going to survive this. It's all going to be a joke in five years," he said.
A combination of misinterpreted and misguided science, media hype, and political spin had created the current hysteria and it was time to put a stop to it.
"It is time to attack the myth of global warming," he said.
Water vapour was responsible for 95 per cent of the greenhouse effect, an effect which was vital to keep the world warm, he explained.
"If we didn't have the greenhouse effect the planet would be at minus 18 deg C but because we do have the greenhouse effect it is plus 15 deg C, all the time."
The other greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and various others including CFCs, contributed only five per cent of the effect, carbon dioxide being by far the greatest contributor at 3.6 per cent.
However, carbon dioxide as a result of man's activities was only 3.2 per cent of that, hence only 0.12 per cent of the greenhouse gases in total. Human-related methane, nitrogen dioxide and CFCs etc made similarly minuscule contributions to the effect: 0.066, 0.047 and 0.046 per cent respectively.
"That ought to be the end of the argument, there and then," he said.
"We couldn't do it (change the climate) even if we wanted to because water vapour dominates."
Yet the Greens continued to use phrases such as "The planet is groaning under the weight of CO2" and Government policies were about to hit industries such as farming, he warned.
"The Greens are really going to go after you because you put out 49 per cent of the countries emissions. Does anybody ask 49 per cent of what? Does anybody know how small that number is?
"It's become a witch-hunt; a Salem witch-hunt," he said.

Al said...

Canadian Front Page: ‘Experts Say Many of the Claims in Al Gore’s Film Are Wrong’

by Noel Sheppard May 20, 2007

Here’s something that is almost a metaphysical certitude: no major American newspaper, in the midst of all the current global warming hysteria, would dare do a front-page feature article questioning the merits of Al Gore’s schlockumentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Yet, there it was Saturday, covering almost two-thirds of the front page of Canada’s National Post, right smack in the middle, with a big picture of the Global Warmingist-in-Chief, surrounded by the shocking headline:

Even Climate Change Experts Say Many of the Claims in Al Gore’s Film Are Wrong.

So How Did it Become Required Classroom Viewing?

Think you’ll see that some day on the front page of the New York Times, Washington Post, or USA Today?

While you ponder, the article was just as skeptical (emphasis added throughout):

First it was his world history class. Then he saw it in his economics class. And his world issues class. And his environment class. In total, 18-year-old McKenzie, a Northern Ontario high schooler, says he has had the film An Inconvenient Truth shown to him by four different teachers this year.

"I really don't understand why they keep showing it," says McKenzie (his parents asked that his last name not be used). "I've spoken to the principal about it, and he said that teachers are instructed to present it as a debate. But every time we've seen it, well, one teacher said this is basically a two-sided debate, but this movie really gives you the best idea of what's going on."

Amazing. The article continued:

Even scientists who back Mr. Gore's message admit they're uncomfortable with liberties the politician takes with "science" in the film. But, McKenzie says most of his classmates are credulous.

His teachers are not much more discerning. "They don't know there's another side to the argument," he says. McKenzie's mother was outraged to find out that Mr. Gore's film was being presented as fact in her son's classroom. "This is just being poured into kids' brains instead of letting them know there's a debate going on," she says. "An educational system falls down when they start taking one side."

But Mr. Gore's filmed climate-change lecture is showing up in classrooms across Canada, frequently unaccompanied by critical analysis or a discussion of competing theories. "One of the teachers at my kid's school showed it and he even said ahead of time, 'There is some propaganda in this,' " says Tim Patterson, a Carleton University earth sciences professor. "I said to him, 'You even knew this was a propaganda film, and you still showed it in your classroom?' " The weirdest part: It was the gym teacher.

If you have children in junior or high school, there is a good chance they have been shown An Inconvenient Truth in school - or they will be soon.

Shocking. Regardless of the admitted – and not admitted – flaws in this film, educators in Canada are showing it to students without any balance from the other side of the debate.

How disgraceful.

Al said...

Cold South Africa Weather breaks record
May 23, 2007 Edition 2


THE icy weather of snow, hail and heavy rain that has swept across South Africa over the past few days has set 54 weather records.

The South African Weather Service said 34 new records were set on Monday and another 20 yesterday. Almost all records were for the lowest maximum and minimum daily temperatures in towns across the country.

Plettenberg Bay and Tsitsikamma both recorded their highest daily rainfall, at 68mm and 71.2mm respectively, on Monday. Plettenberg Bay recorded its lowest minimum temperature, 5.6°C, yesterday. Tsitsikamma had its lowest maximum temperature on Monday, 12.1°C, and its lowest minimum yesterday, 6.3°C.

The lowest minimum temperature recorded was -6°C in Welkom, while the lowest maximum temperature was a mere 1.7°C in Barkly East. Both were recorded on Monday night.

None of this week's records reached the lowest temperature yet recorded in South Africa - -18.6°C recorded at Buffelsfontein in the Eastern Cape in 1996.

Other towns and areas recording their lowest minimum temperatures yet included: Carolina (-5.5°C), Vanwyksvlei (-4.3°C), Ventersdorp (-3.9°C), Witbank (-3.7°C), Gariep Dam (-3.7°C), Pofadder (-3.5°C), Upington (-3.1°C), Marken (-2.9°C), Taung (-2.5°C), Oudestad (-1.7°C) and Nieuwoudtville (-0.1°C).

Kuruman, Kathu and Gariep Dam all recorded their lowest maximum temperatures on Monday and lowest minimums yesterday.

Kuruman went from a high of 9.2°C to a low of -5.1°C, Kathu from 10.1°C to -5.1°C, and Gariep from 6.9°C to -3.7°C.

There was snow on all high-lying areas of the Eastern Cape, and on some of the low-lying areas, said Weather SA's regional manager for the province, Hugh van Niekerk.

He said the Lootsberg pass on the N9 between Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg and the Penhoek pass on the N6 between Queenstown and Aliwal North were closed due to heavy snowfalls.

Van Niekerk said there had been snow in "just about the whole of the Eastern Cape" except the coastal region - on the Bamboesberge, at Joubertina, on the Tsitsikamma and Kouga mountains, at Hogsback, on the Outeniqua and Winterberg mountains, in the Barkly East and Molteno area, at Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg.

"There'll still be a few snowfalls overnight tonight. It should start improving today," said Van Niekerk.

A busload of travellers and 12 truckdrivers spent an icy night stranded on the Lootsberg pass in the Eastern Cape on Monday night when snow and ice made it impossible to negotiate the slippery road.

Morne Mulder, a traffic officer at Graaff-Reinett, said yesterday: "They didn't get stuck because the snow was deep, but because the road was too slippery. There was ice on the roads, so they couldn't move forward or backwards. So they sat there the whole night."

Police and traffic officers went to their aid yesterday morning and cleared the road of ice. They ferried some of the bus passengers in their own vehicles.

The weather office in Cape Town said it would be fine but cold in Cape Town today, with a maximum temperature of 18°C and minimum of 2°C.

The cold front forecast to reach the city tomorrow would be fairly weak, the weather office said.

The maximum temperature tomorrow will be 17°C and the minimum 10°C.

Al said...

A freeze watch is in effect for tonight in the San Luis Valley region


Snow kidding! Weather wacky

By Rocky Mountain News
May 23, 2007

Don’t set the holiday picnic table just yet. You might need to clear some snow first.

The National Weather Service says rain or thundershowers are likely through this evening along the Front Range, with snowshowers expected by midnight in the Castle Rock area. Thunderstorms could be heavy on the eastern plains.

The southwestern mountains of Colorado are under a snow advisory, with up to 8 inches of accumulation possible by early evening.

A freeze watch is in effect for tonight in the San Luis Valley region and much of southeastern Colorado is under a flash flood watch.

For the metro area, today’s high is forecast at 57 degrees, with lows in the mid-30s tonight. Highs should climb into the mid-70s by this weekend, with a chance of late-day thunderstorms.

Anonymous said...

I hope you'll think about coming back, even if it's only once a month. That's enough.

Anonymous said...

America's Honor
The stories behind Memorial Day.



Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors.

Former football star Pat Tillman and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham were killed on the same day: April 22, 2004. But as details of his death fitfully emerged from Afghanistan, Tillman has become a metaphor for the current conflict--a victim of fratricide, disillusionment, coverup and possibly conspiracy. By comparison, Dunham, who saved several of his comrades in Iraq by falling on an insurgent's grenade, is the unknown soldier. The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.

Not long ago I was asked to write the biographical sketches for a book featuring formal photographs of all our living Medal of Honor recipients. As I talked with them, I was, of course, chilled by the primal power of their stories. But I also felt pathos: They had become strangers--honored strangers, but strangers nonetheless--in our midst.

In my own boyhood, figures such as Jimmy Doolittle, Audie Murphy and John Basilone were household names. And it was assumed that what they had done defined us as well as them, telling us what kind of nation we were. But the 110 Medal recipients alive today are virtually unknown except for a niche audience of warfare buffs. Their heroism has become the military equivalent of genre painting. There's something wrong with that.
What they did in battle was extraordinary. Jose Lopez, a diminutive Mexican-American from the barrio of San Antonio, was in the Ardennes forest when the Germans began the counteroffensive that became the Battle of the Bulge. As 10 enemy soldiers approached his position, he grabbed a machine gun and opened fire, killing them all. He killed two dozen more who rushed him. Knocked down by the concussion of German shells, he picked himself up, packed his weapon on his back and ran toward a group of Americans about to be surrounded. He began firing and didn't stop until all his ammunition and all that he could scrounge from other guns was gone. By then he had killed over 100 of the enemy and bought his comrades time to establish a defensive line.

Yet their stories were not only about killing. Several Medal of Honor recipients told me that the first thing they did after the battle was to find a church or some other secluded spot where they could pray, not only for those comrades they'd lost but also the enemy they'd killed.

Desmond Doss, for instance, was a conscientious objector who entered the army in 1942 and became a medic. Because of his religious convictions and refusal to carry a weapon, the men in his unit intimidated and threatened him, trying to get him to transfer out. He refused and they grudgingly accepted him. Late in 1945 he was with them in Okinawa when they got cut to pieces assaulting a Japanese stronghold.

Everyone but Mr. Doss retreated from the rocky plateau where dozens of wounded remained. Under fire, he treated them and then began moving them one by one to a steep escarpment where he roped them down to safety. Each time he succeeded, he prayed, "Dear God, please let me get just one more man." By the end of the day, he had single-handedly saved 75 GIs.

Why did they do it? Some talked of entering a zone of slow-motion invulnerability, where they were spectators at their own heroism. But for most, the answer was simpler and more straightforward: They couldn't let their buddies down.

Big for his age at 14, Jack Lucas begged his mother to help him enlist after Pearl Harbor. She collaborated in lying about his age in return for his promise to someday finish school. After training at Parris Island, he was sent to Honolulu. When his unit boarded a troop ship for Iwo Jima, Mr. Lucas was ordered to remain behind for guard duty. He stowed away to be with his friends and, discovered two days out at sea, convinced his commanding officer to put him in a combat unit rather than the brig. He had just turned 17 when he hit the beach, and a day later he was fighting in a Japanese trench when he saw two grenades land near his comrades.

He threw himself onto the grenades and absorbed the explosion. Later a medic, assuming he was dead, was about to take his dog tag when he saw Mr. Lucas's finger twitch. After months of treatment and recovery, he returned to school as he'd promised his mother, a ninth-grader wearing a Medal of Honor around his neck.

The men in World War II always knew, although news coverage was sometimes scant, that they were in some sense performing for the people at home. The audience dwindled during Korea. By the Vietnam War, the journalists were omnipresent, but the men were performing primarily for each other. One story that expresses this isolation and comradeship involves a SEAL team ambushed on a beach after an aborted mission near North Vietnam's Cua Viet river base.
After a five-hour gunfight, Cmdr. Tom Norris, already a legend thanks to his part in a harrowing rescue mission for a downed pilot (later dramatized in the film BAT-21), stayed behind to provide covering fire while the three others headed to rendezvous with the boat sent to extract them. At the water's edge, one of the men, Mike Thornton, looked back and saw Tom Norris get hit. As the enemy moved in, he ran back through heavy fire and killed two North Vietnamese standing over Norris's body. He lifted the officer, barely alive with a shattered skull, and carried him to the water and then swam out to sea where they were picked up two hours later.

The two men have been inseparable in the 30 years since.

The POWs of Vietnam configured a mini-America in prison that upheld the values beginning to wilt at home as a result of protest and dissension. John McCain tells of Lance Sijan, an airman who ejected over North Vietnam and survived for six weeks crawling (because of his wounds) through the jungle before being captured.

Close to death when he reached Hanoi, Sijan told his captors that he would give them no information because it was against the code of conduct. When not delirious, he quizzed his cellmates about camp security and made plans to escape. The North Vietnamese were obsessed with breaking him, but never did. When he died after long sessions of torture Sijan was, in Sen. McCain's words, "a free man from a free country."

Leo Thorsness was also at the Hanoi Hilton. The Air Force pilot had taken on four MiGs trying to strafe his wingman who had parachuted out of his damaged aircraft; Mr. Thorsness destroyed two and drove off the other two. He was shot down himself soon after this engagement and found out by tap code that his name had been submitted for the Medal.

One of Mr. Thorsness's most vivid memories from seven years of imprisonment involved a fellow prisoner named Mike Christian, who one day found a grimy piece of cloth, perhaps a former handkerchief, during a visit to the nasty concrete tank where the POWs were occasionally allowed a quick sponge bath. Christian picked up the scrap of fabric and hid it.

Back in his cell he convinced prisoners to give him precious crumbs of soap so he could clean the cloth. He stole a small piece of roof tile which he laboriously ground into a powder, mixed with a bit of water and used to make horizontal stripes. He used one of the blue pills of unknown provenance the prisoners were given for all ailments to color a square in the upper left of the cloth. With a needle made from bamboo wood and thread unraveled from the cell's one blanket, Christian stitched little stars on the blue field.

"It took Mike a couple weeks to finish, working at night under his mosquito net so the guards couldn't see him," Mr. Thorsness told me. "Early one morning, he got up before the guards were active and held up the little flag, waving it as if in a breeze. We turned to him and saw it coming to attention and automatically saluted, some of us with tears running down our cheeks. Of course, the Vietnamese found it during a strip search, took Mike to the torture cell and beat him unmercifully. Sometime after midnight they pushed him into our cell, so bad off that even his voice was gone. But when he recovered in a couple weeks he immediately started looking for another piece of cloth."

We impoverish ourselves by shunting these heroes and their experiences to the back pages of our national consciousness. Their stories are not just boys' adventure tales writ large. They are a kind of moral instruction. They remind of something we've heard many times before but is worth repeating on a wartime Memorial Day when we're uncertain about what we celebrate. We're the land of the free for one reason only: We're also the home of the brave.

Mr. Collier wrote the text for "Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty" (Workman, 2006).

Anonymous said...

World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
U.S. Army Sgt. Jose M. Lopez



Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, 23d Infantry, 2d Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Krinkelt, Belgium, 17 December 1944.

Entered service at: Brownsville, Tex. Birth: Mission, Tex. G.O. No.: 47, 18 June 1945.


On his own initiative, he carried his heavy machinegun from Company K's right flank to its left, in order to protect that flank which was in danger of being overrun by advancing enemy infantry supported by tanks. Occupying a shallow hole offering no protection above his waist, he cut down a group of 10 Germans.

Ignoring enemy fire from an advancing tank, he held his position and cut down 25 more enemy infantry attempting to turn his flank. Glancing to his right, he saw a large number of infantry swarming in from the front.

Although dazed and shaken from enemy artillery fire which had crashed into the ground only a few yards away, he realized that his position soon would be outflanked. Again, alone, he carried his machinegun to a position to the right rear of the sector; enemy tanks and infantry were forcing a withdrawal.

Blown over backward by the concussion of enemy fire, he immediately reset his gun and continued his fire. Single-handed he held off the German horde until he was satisfied his company had effected its retirement.

Again he loaded his gun on his back and in a hail of small arms fire he ran to a point where a few of his comrades were attempting to set up another defense against the onrushing enemy. He fired from this position until his ammunition was exhausted.

Still carrying his gun, he fell back with his small group to Krinkelt.

Sgt. Lopez's gallantry and intrepidity, on seemingly suicidal missions in which he killed at least 100 of the enemy, were almost solely responsible for allowing Company K to avoid being enveloped, to withdraw successfully and to give other forces coming up in support time to build a line which repelled the enemy drive.

joanie said...

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