Patriotism

Van Hipp: On Veterans Day, an open letter to my children on appreciating American patriots

To mark Veterans Day and salute the brave Americans who have defended our freedom, I’ve written this open letter to my children. It’s a message worth sharing. Dear Trey, Sarah Camille, and Jackson, It is important for you to understand what Veterans Day means and the role our military veterans have played to give us this land we call America. Veterans Day is a day for all of us as Americans to honor our men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. While Memorial Day honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country when in uniform, Veterans Day is different. It celebrates the service of all of America’s military veterans. Those who have served in our military since our nation’s founding have been on the front lines to keep America safe and secure so that we can be free. Actually, a number of your ancestors were some of America’s first veterans and wore the uniform during the American Revolutionary War to give us our independence. In fact, several were among the Scots-Irish and French Huguenots of the backwoods of South Carolina who came together at the Battle of Cowpens to turn the tide in America’s favor. This Veterans Day, it’s important to understand that the reason we even have a federal government and the reason the states came together in the first place was to “provide for the common defense” of the American people. Always remember that is the primary purpose of our government. And it is American men and women who have worn the uniform – our veterans – who have kept us safe and provided for that common defense. When John F. Kennedy was president, some 52 percent of all federal spending was for national security. Today it is only about 16 percent. So when you hear so-called “experts” say we spend too much on defense and taking care of our veterans, they really don’t know what they’re talking about. Many of our veterans have health and medical problems because of their selfless service to our country. Whether it’s a vet who is an amputee, or one who is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important that we help them and never forget what they have done for our country. In addition to the role our government plays, it’s great to see private citizens – who exemplify the American volunteer spirit – get involved to help our veterans. Look at Ben Patton, Army Gen. George S. Patton’s grandson. His Patton Veterans Project has helped many of our vets dealing with PTSD. Then there’s Michael Reagan, President Reagan’s son, with the Reagan Legacy Foundation. The foundation has done a great job to honor our WWII veterans and provide scholarships for the crew and families of those deployed on the USS Ronald Reagan. I am concerned that many of your generation don’t understand what it really means to be an American and don’t have an appreciation of what our veterans have done over the years for our country. Unfortunately, we don’t emphasize American history and civics in our schools like we used to. A recent study found that 22 percent of millennials weren’t sure if they knew what the Holocaust was. And 67 percent had not heard of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where more than 1 million Jews and others were murdered. Education is a national security issue and right now we’ve got a real problem. President Reagan reminded us that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” He went on to say: “We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” God has blessed America over the years by giving us men and women who put America above self, put on the uniform, and are willing to give their lives for their country. Today we live in a free country and are safe because of our veterans. This Veterans Day, honor our veterans, go to a Veterans Day parade and bring your friends. And tell them what it means to be an American and what our veterans have done for them. Most importantly, thank God for giving us men and women such as these. This is the way to honor our veterans on Veterans Day.

As a veteran, myself, thanks Van.  Van D. Hipp, Jr. is Chairman of American Defense International, Inc.  He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army and author of “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It.”  He is the 2018 recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II September 11 Garden Leadership Award for National Security. Follow him on  Twitter @VanHipp.     🙂

Body of MAJ Brent Taylor, Utah mayor killed in Afghanistan, returns to US

The body of Utah mayor and Army National Guard major Brent Taylor arrived in the United States on Election Day — a somber homecoming his widow called “fitting.” Taylor, who was shot and killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan on Saturday, had only days earlier praised the Afghan people who fearlessly filled up polling stations during that country’s parliamentary elections and also exhorted Americans to vote in Tuesday’s midterm elections. “It seems only fitting that Brent, who in death represents so much more, has come home to U.S. soil in a flag-draped casket on our Election Day,” Jennie Taylor said during an eloquent address in which she memorialized the ultimate sacrifice made by her husband. “The price of freedom surely feels incredibly high to those of us who know and love our individual soldier. The value of freedom is immeasurable to those who love American and all she represents.” Jennie ended her remarks by echoing Brent Taylor’s call to cast a ballot. “Brent himself put it best just days ago when he implored of us all, ‘I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote and whether the Republicans or Democrats win I hope that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us,” she said. Military officials said the 39-year-old North Ogden mayor was killed in Kabul by an Afghan commando he was training. The assailant was then killed by Afghan forces. Taylor is the eighth American killed in action in Afghanistan this year. Maj. Taylor had been expecting to return as Mayor Taylor in January. Aside from his wife, Taylor leaves behind seven children, ranging from 11 months old to 13 years old. “To say that our hearts are anything less than shattered would be nothing short of true deceit and yet to deny the sacred honor that it is to stand that close to some of the freshest blood that has been spilt for our country would be absolute blasphemy,” Jennie said. Following news of Taylor’s death, condolences poured in from far and wide. One of the letters was written by Maj. Abdul Rahman Rahmani, an Afghan Army Aviation pilot. Rahmani tweeted the letter, which he addressed to Jennie, saying he was a “better person” after meeting Taylor. “He died on our soil but he died for the success of freedom and democracy in both of our countries,” Rahmani wrote. Taylor, a military intelligence officer with Joint Force Headquarters, served two tours in Iraq and was on his second tour in Afghanistan.

As a former Military Intelligence Army (“field grade”) officer who also served in Afghanistan, this story really hits home on a personal level.  Our prayers are with Jennie and her kids during this heartbreaking time.  And, our thanks to Brent for his service and ultimate sacrifice.  For more, click on the text above.

NFL Legend Jim Brown: We Should Not Kneel Instead of ‘Standing Up for Our Flag’

Former NFL player Jim Brown blasted those who decide to kneel instead of stand for the national anthem at a Thursday afternoon press conference outside the White House. “First of all, I’m an American. That flag is my flag,” Brown told the reporters crowded outside the White House. “I don’t think that we should take knees in protest instead of be standing up for our flag.” The NFL legend, along with rapper Kanye West, met with President Trump inside the White House Thursday to discuss issues of importance to the black community. “I gave him my opinion of the overall community of this country,” Brown said. “I expressed my desire to bring a plan, along with his plan, on how to help people. People need jobs, people need education, people need to be attended to, so that’s what I’m talking about.” Brown had publicly endorsed Trump’s 2020 re-election in August, admitting that left-wing black activists would criticize him over his endorsement. The NFL great also met with West shortly after giving Trump his endorsement. Brown has also spoken out against the national anthem protests in the NFL before, saying he would “never kneel” during our national anthem and would “always respect the flag.”

Kudos to Jim for calling the self-righteous, entitlement-minded punks in the NFL who continue to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem.  Jim gets it.  Excellent!    🙂

Donald Trump Awards Army Medic Ronald J. Shurer II with Medal of Honor

President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor on Monday to Army medic Ronald J. Shurer II for his heroic actions in Afghanistan. Shurer was a medic in Afghanistan during the six-hour battle in Shok Valley, and he raced to save the lives of his fellow soldiers by treating their wounds and evacuating them to safety in treacherous territory. Shurer’s Special Forces team was traveling to take out a terror target when terrorists attacked them with snipers, rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, and machine guns. Trump recounted the story, noting that the medic kept treating the men even after an enemy bullet struck his helmet. He made multiple trips into the fight to defend his fellow soldiers in the special forces, carrying them down a mountain and shielding them with his body. All of the United States soldiers made it out of the valley alive. Shurer currently serves as a member of the Secret Service on the agency’s Counter Assault team. Trump recalled that he recently surprised Shurer and his wife with the news of his decision to award him the Medal of Honor. The president also noted that Shurer was recently diagnosed with cancer. “He’s been fighting it every single day with courage and strength,” Trump said. He called Schurer “the best dad and role model” to his two sons, after which one of the boys told Trump that their father was the “best dad ever.” “We stand in awe of your father’s courage,” Trump added.

Indeed..  A big Army HOOAH!! to former Staff Sergeant Shurer (E-6) for his exemplary service in Afghanistan!  There is more to this story..  SSG Shurer killed several bad guys while trying to get to his Special Forces team members.  That was just getting to them!  Then, he put his body in between the insurgents and his team, and got everyone out alive.  THAT is the definition of courage, folks.  SSG Shurer, who is now a Secret Service Special Agent, is a role model…and rightly earned the Medal of Honor.  Outstanding!!     🙂

Trump pays tribute to 9/11 victims and heroes in Shanksville: ‘When America fought back’

President Trump, at a hushed ceremony in Shanksville, Pa., paid “solemn tribute” to the 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93 who “stood up and defied the enemy” 17 years ago. The president and first lady Melania Trump visited the hallowed site Tuesday to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. They spoke after a new memorial to the victims was dedicated over the weekend. “On September 11, 2001, a band of brave patriots turned the tide on our nation’s enemies and joined the immortal ranks of American heroes,” the president said. “At this memorial, on this sacred earth, in the field beyond this wall, and in the skies above our heads, we remember the moment when America fought back.” The 40 passengers and crew members of Flight 93 are believed to have prevented a larger attack by fighting back against the terrorists who hijacked the plane. The field in Shanksville, Pa. where the plane crashed, is just a 20-minute flight from the U.S. Capitol. Trump, in a passionate address, honored the lives lost and their families, saying that their “tears are not shed alone, for they are shared grief with an entire nation.” “We honor their sacrifice by pledging to never flinch in the face of evil and to do whatever it takes to keep America safe,” Trump said. The president recalled the story of that day—passengers and crewmembers placing “their final calls home, whispering those eternal words, ‘I love you.’” “They bravely charged the cockpit. They attacked the enemy. They fought until the very end. And they stopped the forces of terror and defeated this wicked, horrible, evil plan,” Trump said. “Through their sacrifice, the 40 saved the lives of countless Americans and they saved our Capitol from a devastating strike.” Trump called the field a “monument to American defiance,” with the new memorial sharing a “message to the world—America will never submit to tyranny.” “As commander in chief, I will always do everything in my power to prevent terrorists from striking American soil,” Trump said. “17 years ago, 40 incredible men and women showed the whole world that no force on earth will ever conquer the American spirit …We treasure their memory and legacy.” The new Shanksville memorial is called “The Tower of Voices,” which stands 93 feet tall. The tower holds 40 wind chimes to honor the 40 victims of Flight 93. Vice President Pence, who visited Shanksville last year, on Tuesday presided over a ceremony at the Pentagon, delivering a tearful address and acknowledging that approximately one quarter of the U.S. population was born after the 9/11 attacks 17 years ago. “We gather here today to reflect on what we remember, to remember the fallen, their families and the heroes that day. But be assured, we also gather here to ensure that each succeeding generation knows the story of what happened that dark day, and understands why,” Pence said. “We must learn the lessons of September 11, and remain ever vigilant in the defense of our nation and our people.” The vice president added that the terrorists who carried out the attacks “sought not just to take the lives of our people and crumble our buildings, but they hoped to take our spirit.” “They failed,” Pence said. Pence touted the administration’s efforts to strengthen the military, offering “renewed support” to the armed forces. “We overcome every challenge, we triumph over every evil, and we remain united as one nation, under God,” Pence said, concluding with a delivery of the Irish Prayer. Trump on Tuesday also signed a proclamation designating Sept. 11, 2018 “Patriot Day 2018” in honor of the victims from the tragic terror attacks nearly two decades ago, and “every hero who has given their life since that day to protect our safety.” Trump retweeted the full statement shared by White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr., tweeting: “#NeverForget #September11th.” The proclamation, which was signed on the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, honors “the memories of the souls we lost,” and pays “tribute to all of the patriots who have sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom.” “On Patriot Day, we honor the memories of the nearly 3,000 precious lives we lost on September 11, 2001, and every hero who has given their life since that day to protect our safety and our freedom,” the proclamation says. “We come together, today, to recall this timeless truth: When America is united, no force on Earth can break us apart. Our values endure; our people thrive; our Nation prevails; and the memory of our loved ones never fades.” The statement details how “that fateful Tuesday … erupted into horror and anguish when radical Islamist terrorists carried out an unprecedented attack on hour homeland.” “Through the dust and ashes, we emerged resilient and united—bruised but not broken,” the statement says. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also tweeted early Tuesday touting America’s resilience: “17 yrs ago, we received a terrible reminder of the evil in our world. In the midst of horrific tragedy America stood strong. We will never be the same, but we will always resilient. Today we honor the memory of those who died, and those who keep us safe. #NeverForget”

And we never will..  As someone who served as a “field grade” Army (Military Intelligence) officer in Afghanistan several years ago, this day means a lot to me and my brothers and sisters I’ve had the honor of serving with “down range.”…and serves as a grim reminder of why we must remain ever vigilant and NEVER let our guard down.  We have to be vigilant ALL the time.  The terrorists just need to get it right once..

Army Veteran’s Apparel Line Counters Nike-Kaepernick Campaign with ‘Just Stand’ Shirt

An Army veteran called out Nike Saturday on Fox & Friends for featuring Colin Kaepernick at the center of the company’s “Just Do It” campaign. Tyler Merritt’s company, Nine Line Apparel, has countered Nike by releasing a shirt of its own that reads “Just Stand.” Merritt, a former Army captain and Nine Line’s CEO, said Saturday, “They decided to take a stance. This is our stand.” Nike recently announced a multiyear agreement with Kaepernick, including for his own apparel line, video ads and billboards featuring his image, and a contribution to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s Know Your Rights charity. The company drew immediate backlash after releasing a print ad that stated, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Merritt said Saturday that it’s hard to make a parallel between an athlete’s sacrifice and a soldier’s. “The word ‘sacrifice’ in the military members, it’s something severe,” he said. He said that Nike’s move to feature a controversial figure like Kaepernick was done with a lack of concern about those who may find the former quarterback’s actions offensive. “I agree that police brutality is bad, but you know, wearing socks that say pigs…” he said, in reference to when Kaepernick wore socks depicting police officers as pigs. “Actions speak louder than words,” Merritt said. “If you want to say that you’re promoting social injustice, then actually do something.”

Fair enough…

Opinion: A Purple Heart for disgraced FBI agent Strzok? The very suggestion is an insult to the military

If medals were awarded for disgraceful, disrespectful and downright dumb statements by members of Congress, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., would surely be awarded one for his ridiculous comment Thursday to disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok. Strzok was questioned by members of two House committees about the clear contempt and hatred for presidential candidate Donald Trump he expressed in numerous text messages with his then-lover and FBI attorney Lisa Page during the 2016 presidential campaign. Committee Republicans quite understandably wanted to know if Strzok’s intense anti-Trump bias influenced his work on the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia to help elect Trump, or influenced his work on the investigation of the Hillary Clinton email scandal. These are surely legitimate questions, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller is relying on the work of FBI investigators in his Russia probe. But Cohen joined other Democrats on the committees in leaping to Strzok’s defense and showering him with praise like he was some great hero, while bemoaning the attacks on him by Republicans. And then Cohen made his stunning and absurd comment about the questioning Strzok was undergoing. “If I could give you a Purple Heart, I would,” Cohen said to Strzok. “This has been an attack on you and a way to attack Mr. Mueller and the investigation that is to get at Russian collusion involved in our election.” Quite a statement. The Purple Heart is awarded to members of our armed forces wounded in combat while fighting to keep all of us safe. It was established by Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War and represents the respect we offer as a nation for that sacrifice. To demean this award by using it for any other purpose is wrong. To do so in support of a man who is testifying because he abused the trust of the American people and appears to have used his position at the FBI against a political candidate he opposed is obscene. Cohen received a torrent of criticism for his abhorrent comment – as he should have. The Nashville Tennessean newspaper reported: “A group of veterans in Memphis has slammed Cohen’s comment Thursday as an ‘insult to every service member’ and are demanding the Memphis Democrat apologize for his ‘disrespectful’ words.” That and other criticism of Cohen in Tennessee media prompted him to beat a hasty retreat: “I regret mentioning the Purple Heart medal at yesterday’s hearing. My intent was to speak metaphorically to make a broader point about attacks against the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into a Russian attack on our country,” Cohen said Friday. “I have nothing but the highest respect for members of the Armed Forces, especially those who have been awarded Purple Hearts, as well as the hard working men and women at the FBI. We are safe because of their service and sacrifice,” Cohen said. Too bad that Rep. Cohen, who has zero personal experience with the military, didn’t think first before making his comment to Strzok a day earlier. The Purple Heart is an exceptionally well-known award. Any decent person should have known to steer clear of mentioning it unless referring respectfully to recipients of the medal. To compare the suffering of a heroic member of our military wounded in combat to the experience of Strzok sitting at a table and underdoing questioning by elected officials for his misconduct is unbelievably insulting. As an Army Special Forces veteran – and as the son of a soldier who fought in the Vietnam War – I know firsthand that there is near zero tolerance among the military community and most patriotic Americans for any abuse of military awards, symbols or service. While Cohen went further than any of his colleagues in praising Strzok, plenty of his fellow Democrats joined in the lovefest for Strzok. For example, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., said we should be “honoring” Strzok. Far from showing any remorse for personally destroying the FBI’s reputation for trustworthiness and impartiality, Strzok is acting as if he is beyond judgment. At the House hearing he absurdly claimed that he was not biased against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton, and took no improper action in his FBI investigations – despite the many biased texts he wrote. The voluminous record of hate-filled anti-Trump texts Strzok sent his partner in adultery, Lisa Page, tell another tale. They describe a rogue senior FBI official so blinded by partisan political rancor that he has been suspended from his job and may face criminal charges in the future. As for Rep. Cohen, if a Congressional Medal for Stupidity is ever created, he’s already earned it.

Agreed!!  And well said, Jim.  Former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier Jim Hanson is the author of that op/ed.  Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) needs to simply apologize for his offensive, and breathtakingly stupid comment….without the political disclaimers and equivocating he did the first time.  That apology should first and foremost go to those who have actually received the Purple Heart, and then to those who have served in combat.   Then, whoever faces him in November should use his spectacular blunder to beat him.  The good people in his Tennessee congressional district have an opportunity in November to fire him.