The week, when Hanoi Jane gave her strongest apology yet for her infamous expressions of collaboration with the enemy during the Vietnam War, was also the week in which Fallujah Mike doubled down on his.
In his little-noticed follow-up to his well-covered “snipers were cowards” tweets, Michael Moore painted the Saddam loyalists and al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists as the heroes — and U.S. forces as the invading marauders.
Cable news, talk radio, the blogosphere and the Twitterverse have adequately covered Michael Moore’s tweet calling snipers “cowards”:
My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse
Despite Moore’s hilarious disclaimer that he did not mean Chris Kyle and the requisite implication that it was just a coincidence of timing that he tweeted this out on American Sniper’s opening weekend, he has received the blowback he deserves. (By the way, is no one going to ask Michael Moore if his uncle braced every German soldier he encountered face to face like in a B-western, or gave them all a chance to surrender?)
Chris Kyle—deservedly—is America’s hero of the moment, and jumping on his bandwagon is an easy way to get airtime and demonstrate one’s rhetorical prowess.
But the “coward” tweet was not by any means the worst thing Moore said that day. He also called Chris Kyle a man who murdered good neighbors who were protecting each other, and every American serviceman a marauding invader:
But if you’re on the roof of your home defending it from invaders who’ve come 7K miles, you are not a sniper, u are brave, u are a neighbor.
The response? Crickets.
The lack of attention to his follow-up tweet is a mystery to me. Is defending our troops too difficult? Does it feel to commentators like they will have to defend the whole Iraq war all over again if they go there?
This is not a hard argument to have. If you think that personalizing this issue to the person of Chris Kyle gets you more internet hits or viewers, just frame it as I did above.
Or maybe just point out that last week, those “good neighbors” executed a batch of little kids for watching a soccer game on television.
If you doubt that Michael Moore has always been on the side of the people Chris Kyle rightly called “f**cking savages,” here is one of his website postings from April of 2004:
The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not “insurgents” or “terrorists” or “The Enemy.” They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win….I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle…the majority of Americans supported this war once it began and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe — just maybe — God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end.
Like that guy using the power drill on a child’s head? The farmers who marched on Lexington and Concord in the cause of liberty would certainly have welcomed him into their ranks.
But Michael Moore and Jane Fonda are only the most clumsy of those who root for the defeat of U.S. forces. When Harry Reid, with the regularity of Baghdad Bob, declares the defeat of American efforts no matter the news of the day (and especially after the success of the surge), that’s a deliberate effort to undermine the war effort.
And the commander-in-chief who later claimed victory and went home, leaving the country to ISIS, has been doing the same thing.
When Ron Paul claims we are meddling in the civil war of another country or invading a “sovereign nation,” the biggest difference between that and Michael Moore is he doesn’t go as far in his praise of the f**king savages.
But maybe that’s what commentators on the right, who see an opportunity to rile up patriotic Americans with the low-hanging fruit of pitting the singularly un-appetizing Michael Moore vs. a guy played by Bradley Cooper in a movie, are afraid the debate will expand to—a war they don’t want to fight anymore.
Ironically, however, protecting Chris Kyle’s reputation without protecting the reputations of our troops in general is the exact opposite of the legacy of Chris Kyle.
Here is how Chris Kyle reacted to the notion of personal fame, notoriety and being labeled Number One:
The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, [emphasis mine] but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives. Everyone I shot in Iraq was trying to harm Americans or Iraqis loyal to the new government. I had a job to do as a SEAL. I killed the enemy — an enemy I saw day in and day out plotting to kill my fellow Americans. I’m haunted by the enemy’s successes. They were few, but even a single American life is one too many lost.
The outpouring of support for American Sniper shows that even in death, Chris Kyle can take care of himself. By all means, come to his defense, but make room on the bandwagon for the other soldiers he dedicated his career—and his life—to defending.
Last week, I went to see American Sniper with my son-in-law. I wasn’t sure what to expect. My daughter is an actress, and I have spent a lot of time over the past decade working with folks in Hollywood. I was concerned that the movie would be a Hollywood rendition of operations in Iraq. That was not the case.
I found the movie to be an accurate reflection of what we went thru as we tried to give the people of Iraq the opportunity to pursue freedom from fear. There are over 16 million Iraqi people. They want what we want: to be able to send their kids to school, have medical care, be able to provide for their Family, etc. We tried to provide that for them.
I want all of America to go see the movie. I am not interested in how much money the movie makes, but I am interested in ensuring the American public is aware of what happened over there. Less than 1% of the American public serve our Nation in uniform, but we all enjoy the freedoms provided by that select few. 76% of the American public say they have no idea what our Veterans are going thru. Seeing the movie will help with that.
I don’t consider the movie to be about a single individual, Chris Kyle. It is bigger than that. Folks are debating about the accuracy of the movie and comparing it to the book. Other folks are arguing about the role of snipers, and revisiting the idea that in their opinion we should never have been in Iraq in the first place. Let’s focus on more important issues, and determine what the movie could provide the American public.
1. The movie is about the horror of war in a counterinsurgency environment. It is about being in a situation where it is impossible to determine the good guys from the bad. We as a Nation sent American troops into Iraq. The movie shows those who sent us what it was like over there.
2. The movie is about the impact on the individual psyche of having to make life and death decisions to protect ourselves and our friends. Over 2.3 million Americans have volunteered to serve our Nation in uniform since 9/11. We have not had a draft since 1973. Those volunteers patrolled the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. The normal day included oppressive heat, long patrols wearing 70 pounds of body armor, and constant fear. Where are the enemy snipers? Who is the enemy? Where is the roadside bomb? Unfortunately, we as a Nation compensate those true American heroes an average of $1800 per month.
Since 9/11 over 50,000 American have returned from combat with visible wounds. In addition to that over 150,000 have come back with invisible wounds, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TB), or both. The movie give the viewer a sense as to why that is. I hope the viewer places himself in the situations depicted in the movie and tries to imagine what they would be like having experienced something like that.
3. The movie is about what our troops did in Iraq in that difficult situation. Snipers were important. They provided over watch on our operations and tried to stop the enemy from killing our troops. In many cases our snipers saved the lives of my Soldiers. But they were not any more important than the infantryman patrolling the streets and entering homes, the engineer clearing roadside bombs, the logistician ensuring needed parts and supplies were on hand. Everyone had a role.
The movie is also about the effects of multiple deployments on the trooper’s Family. The trooper marched to the sounds of the guns. In actuality, most of us would prefer to be back on the streets in Iraq supporting our friends rather than in the comfort of our own homes. That’s what we were trained to do. That came across loud and clear in the movie. We must remember that the Families left behind are also sacrificing. Marriages are strained. Kids are struggling in school.
I was concerned about the reaction of the crowd when I left the theater. I was emotionally drained, having spent the last 2 hours reliving some of my own experiences in Iraq. I expected there to be a moment of silence at the conclusion of the movie, especially when pictures of Chris Kyle and his Family were shown. The audience applauded at the end of the movie. I am not sure why. I can only hope they were applauding the bravery of the American Soldier.
I am equally concerned about the silliness that is going on across the Nation now in reaction to the movie. Where is the substantive conversation about what was portrayed in the movie? Where is the detailed analysis of PTSD as a result of what was portrayed? Where is the commitment to help military Families?
So, go see the movie. After the movie, take some time to contemplate on what you saw, and then dedicate yourself to helping our troopers and their Families. We will be at war with terrorists, both foreign and domestic, for many years to come. They are going to need our help.
Illustrating the point I made in these pages three weeks ago — that movies with conservative or libertarian themes did amazingly well at the box office in 2014 - American Sniper has made over $110 million this month, shattering January box office records, and is well on its way to becoming Clint Eastwood’s most successful movie.
For many on the left, this cannot stand. So while positive reviews pour in and moviegoers sell out theaters all across the country, criticism of the film — and the Iraq War — is growing.
Steve Pond, at TheWrap, writes “multiple Academy members told TheWrap that they had been passing around a recent article by Dennis Jett in The New Republic that attacks the film for making a hero out of [Chris] Kyle.” One Academy member was quoted as saying that Kyle “seems like he may be a sociopath” before admitting that “he had not yet seen the film.”
That didn’t stop The New Republic, which published Jett’s hit piece on the film before he’d seen it as well, basing the review on the film’s trailer and the book upon which it was based. If you’ve read that book, Jett writes, then you know that, “[Kyle’s] bravado left no room for doubt. For him, the enemy are savages and despicably evil. His only regret is that he didn’t kill more.”
Lindy West at The Guardian struck a similar chord, writing that Kyle “bare minimum, was a racist who took pleasure in dehumanising and killing brown people.” It is unclear whether or not West saw the film before publishing the piece, which is more about the film’s backstory.
Alex Horton, also writing for The Guardian and a veteran of the Iraq War, did see the film and gets to the heart of Kyle’s guilt, “not the guilt of taking lives, but the agony of not saving enough. It’s a vital part of countless veterans that civilians must understand.”
Chris Kyle is confirmed to have killed 160 people, and he claimed to have killed 255. In a 2012 interview with Time he appeared to confirm the fears of Jett and West, saying
I’m not over there looking at these people as people. I’m not wondering if he has a family. I’m just trying to keep my guys safe.
These three sentences perfectly capture the controversy surrounding the film and the moral ambiguity surrounding the Iraq War itself.
Chris Kyle killed a lot of brown people. Liberals will focus on this fact almost to the exclusion of all others. It doesn’t matter what those brown people were doing, or would have done. America invaded Iraq under false pretenses and it follows, in Jett’s analysis, that every “excess” death in Iraq can be laid at the feet of not only George W. Bush, but every single American.
Seven-hundred-ninety-six of those “excess” deaths occurred on August 14, 2007, near Mosul, Iraq, in what is second only to 9/11 as the deadliest terrorist attack in history. Four near-simultaneous suicide car bombs, targeting the Yazidi community in Kahtaniya and Jazeera, “crumbled buildings, trapping entire families beneath mud bricks and other wreckage as entire neighborhoods were flattened.”
I would characterize this as “despicably evil.” I can think of few things more evil than slaughtering innocent men, women, and children, but liberals like Jett must find a way to rationalize evil to place the blame on the American people. If we hadn’t invaded Iraq, according to the theory, then this wouldn’t have happened. The American invaders, therefore, are responsible for creating this evil.
But are we? The same Yazidi community targeted in 2007 was persecuted and massacred again by ISIS just last year. America famously left Iraq in 2011, but the killing hasn’t stopped.
I lived in a small outpost in central Baghdad for months during the surge in 2007 — we were attacked only once by harassing small-arms fire. The gas station less than a mile away from our outpost was blown up by a car bomb that summer, killing scores of innocent civilians. The murderers didn’t target my team, they targeted innocent civilians. Am I responsible for that massacre?
There is an insidiously racist strain in much of the commentary surrounding American Sniper and the Iraq War. Calling Chris Kyle a racist because he killed a lot of brown people dehumanizes the people he killed. They weren’t marionettes forced to dance by the hand of American foreign policy. The people who ordered the suicide attacks which killed nearly 800 Yazidi in 2007 were living, breathing sentient human beings making their own decisions.
They were brown people capable of and enthusiastic about murdering hundreds of people.
That sentence may strike many on the Left as irredeemably racist, but it is precisely the opposite. All humans are capable of evil. White people in the U.S. military are capable of evil, former SSG Robert Bales being just one example. Evil is not the defining characteristic of white military members, and it is not the defining characteristic of brown Iraqis.
Chris Kyle had to clearly delineate between good and evil. In the film’s opening sequence he is confronted with a woman and a young boy moving toward a group of Marines with a grenade. That woman was not in a military uniform and was not carrying arms openly, unlawful under the Geneva Convention. She was hoping that her gender — and the fact that she was with a child — would prevent decent American troops from identifying her as a threat before she could kill a few of them.
In Kyle’s judgment she was “already dead,” the only question was how many soldiers she would take with her. His answer? Zero.
Many of the people we fought in Iraq wouldn’t bother with this type of moral calculation. Sunni suicide bombers and Shiite death squads did quite the opposite of Kyle, killing as many innocent men, women and children they could.
When we find evil in our military ranks — like we did at Abu Ghraib — we punish those responsible. We can argue about whether the right people were punished, or whether they were punished severely enough, but compare that process to the Al Qaeda or ISIS process to prosecute members of their organizations who kill innocent civilians.
Except you can’t. Killing a massive number of innocent civilians is their preferred tactic. That’s evil.
Murdering someone because of their religion is evil. Murdering someone for a cartoon they published is evil. Murdering someone because of their sexual orientation is evil. Are any of these things made less evil when they are perpetrated by brown people?
No. And to suggest as much is racist and dehumanizing.
With all due respect to Lone Survivor and Zero Dark Thirty (and I have paid mad respect to both), Clint Eastwood’s amazing American Sniper is the film for the war on terror.
But it’s more than that. It is a timeless American war movie that explores the necessity of having men who are–and bear the burden of being–really really good at killing bad guys.
In fact, this is easily one of the ten best American war movies of all time. (I won’t place it any higher than that until I’ve had the chance to see it again and let the initial emotional impact wear off; but right now, I can’t think of three I would rate above it.)
Eastwood both allows the character of Chris Kyle to speak to that unabashed pride in doing a necessary job — his warts-and-all honesty about how he neglected his family while letting the job consume him — and uses the tragic events that followed the publication of the book to show us how doing that job takes a toll.
The result is a shining example of material finding the perfect director. In many ways, Eastwood’s whole career has been leading up to this statement. It’s what Unforgiven couldn’t quite get to because it was merely about a previously vicious man sliding back into his old ways, even if his cause was just.
The film — like the book — opens as newly minted Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle takes a bead on a small Iraqi boy whose mother has just handed him a grenade and sent him running toward a squad of American Marines.
Then, while Kyle is waiting for that space between breaths, between heartbeats, that still moment of the trigger pull, we flash back to how he got there.
This is a perfectly executed and superbly made bio-pic. Despite the heroism it shows, it never lapses into hagiography or sappy preaching. Eastwood is clear-eyed throughout, and confident at letting his story tell itself.
American Sniper lives up to its title. This is an intensely American film. Everything about Chris Kyle’s background, from hunting with his father, to the little country church, to wanting to be a cowboy, is not just Texas, it’s America.
From Sergeant York, to Audie Murphy, to Dick Bong (WWII’s ace of aces who also left combat only to die serving on the home front), to Chris Kyle, small-town, do-for-yourself America has produced these men for whom taking up arms to protect their country just comes naturally (even, eventually, for the Quaker, York).
The motivation is summed up in a talk Chris Kyle’s father gives at the dinner table — a speech many American fathers have given their sons (and many more should), but rarely with this perfect an analogy.
Chris has had trouble in school for beating up the bully who was picking on his younger brother — but he is not in trouble at home. His father explains there are three kinds of people in the world: Sheep, who can’t protect themselves; wolves; and sheepdogs, who protect the sheep. He expects his son, who has the ability, to be a sheepdog – and if he ever becomes a wolf, he will get an ass whooping he will never forget.
Later, when drinking away the memory of a cheating girlfriend and the Khobar Towers bombing news story comes up on television news, a hitherto aimless Chris Kyle knows exactly what he is supposed to do.
While American Sniper takes no firm position on the wisdom of the war in Iraq — various characters express varied opinions on that — it is very clear-eyed about the nature of the enemy, or, as Kyle refers to them as, “the f***ing savages.”
Not since The Deer Hunter has the enemy been as accurately portrayed in an American film as the bestial evil that they are, and without over-the-top Hollywood histrionics. The good guys have their flaws, but these bad guys have to be opposed — and killed in as large a number as possible.
There are four great battle-set pieces in American Sniper that are breathtakingly effective — and, thankfully, Eastwood knows how to give immediacy and a you-are-there feel to the scenes without the herky-jerky handheld camera gimmicks and incoherent quick-cut edits that lesser directors use to pull off a complicated scene.
At one point, Kyle’s sheepdog instincts take him off the rooftops — against orders — and down into the streets with the Marines. He knows his SEAL training has prepared him better for house-to-house combat and he can’t sit by without teaching them how to do it better.
Eastwood has been exploring these themes for years, imperfectly in Heartbreak Ridge, much better in The Outlaw Josey Wales, of course in Dirty Harry, and most recently (showing he understands the protective impulse of the American soldier) in Gran Torino, where this really was the under-explored theme.
The performances are all first rate (I’ll rave about Cooper in a minute) and it’s really about time that people realize the beautiful Sienna Miller is an actress of grit and grace.
So in the pantheon of great American war movies, where does American Sniper place? It’s more personal and emotionally shattering than even The Deer Hunter, because that great film spread its emotions around to the effect of the Vietnam War on a whole town.
It does an even better job of portraying the sacrifices and effects of war on the family of a warrior than We Were Soldiers.
And of course it is a more realistic look at a highly decorated soldier who performed at an almost superhuman level than either Sergeant York or To Hell and Back – and not just because of the allowances of modern filmmaking.
It’s hard to explain the greatness of Bradley Cooper’s performance, unless you have seen Chris Kyle’s interviews. But Cooper does not just inhabit his role, or give a great interpretation of a character — he disappears into it.
Sure, the muscle gain helps, because it keeps us from remembering this is svelte Bradley Cooper who has given so many memorable performances the last few years (and was the softer male character way back on TV’s Alias).
But watching American Sniper, you feel as though Chris Kyle was allowed to play himself — maybe better, since this is a more convincing portrayal than even Audie Murphy gave playing… Audie Murphy.
Which makes the tragic ending of this story all the more shattering. Eastwood’s choice at the end of American Sniper is almost as important as the one he makes at the beginning. At the screening I attended, there were gasps as a credit announced what happened to Kyle, muffled sobs during the real footage of his funeral that ran over the credits, and no one — and I mean no one — moved until the credits were done. As people filed out, it was as quiet and somber as if we had attended the funeral ourselves.
Seeing American Sniper is an American experience. Don’t miss it.
Editor’s Note: This is a much longer essay than we usually publish at PJ Lifestyle but by the time you finish the first page it should be more than clear that you’re going to want to take the time to read the whole thing. Tom Weiss is an extraordinary emerging writer you should start following. Here he delivers an inspiring rebuttal in defense of America’s military heroes.
Early on a Sunday morning in late January, 2008, the last members of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division arrived back in the United States after spending almost sixteen months in Iraq. We landed in Bangor, ME just as the sun was coming up and groggily prepared to disembark for a couple hours while the aircraft was re-fueled and serviced.
I was one of the first people off the plane that morning and as I walked down the jet-way I didn’t expect much of anything. I assumed the terminal would be deserted and hoped, at such an early hour, that something would be open so I could grab a cup of coffee and maybe a little breakfast.
I was completely unprepared for what was about to occur.
At first, I saw just a couple people on either side of the corridor some fifty meters ahead of me. My tired mind paid them little attention until their numbers began to swell. A couple turned into a dozen. Then two dozen. Then four. By the time I reached them well over a hundred people were lined up – half on one side of me, half on the other – and every single one of them wanted to shake my hand, and the hand of every other soldier on the plane, as we walked past. Even now I get emotional just thinking about this moment.
I had landed that Sunday morning in the midst of the Maine Troop Greeters, a group devoted to greeting service members upon their return from overseas. “As long as there are U.S. armed forces serving overseas,” their web site declares, “we will be here to greet them.”
My second return from combat in Iraq wasn’t as pleasant. I flew in on a stretcher and spent the next month in the hospital at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas enduring one surgery after another. Once I was released from the hospital, I spent a few months living at the Fisher House on the hospital grounds and working with the physical therapy team at the Center for the Intrepid. One afternoon, sitting out on the patio following a grueling therapy session, I was approached by a Fisher House volunteer. She asked whether I had, on my way to Iraq, flown through Bangor.
When I told her we did stop in Bangor she told me to stay put, she’d be right back. I joked that I wasn’t going anywhere quickly in my wheelchair and when she returned she handed me a t-shirt, which I thought strange until she explained its meaning.
She was from Bangor and also volunteered with the Maine Greeters. She told me that since I didn’t get the opportunity to return with the rest of my unit, I owed Bangor, ME a visit. She then showed me that the shirt had exactly that phrase embroidered on the front, “I owe Bangor, ME a visit.”
I was born in 1971 and have no memory of the Vietnam War itself, only its aftermath. I learned of the anti-war protests in school and read news stories about how Vietnam vets were greeted upon their return. I’ve returned from overseas combat tours three times, but never had to endure treatment like this.
Gary Rodd, describing the reaction to his Marine Corps unit marching in a parade to honor the Apollo astronauts, said “As soon as you marched out, all you could hear from the crowd was, ‘Baby killers!’”
And here is the experience of Edward Kenney:
Demonstrators were marching outside Travis Air Force Base in California “in the wee hours of the morning” when the plane bringing him back to the states landed, said Edward Kenney, who served with the Marine Corps in Vietnam.
“And they put us in a reception hall and said, ‘If you don’t have civilian clothes, buy them. You will not leave this facility in your uniform,’” he recalled.
Back in Glens Falls, Kenney agreed to speak to a class at St. Mary’s Academy.
“What I was surprised about, I thought I was going to go there just to maybe relay what kind of life I had lived and how it was,” he said. “They didn’t want to know that. They wanted to know how it was that I would support the politics of the current administration and the previous administration that would send us over there to kill us. I almost backed out of that place.”
Looking back over the last year, here are the stories that we will probably still be thinking about in the years ahead. In some cases these headlines will be recalled as warnings of the troubles to come. Others are reminders of the one constant advantage America holds—that every generation of Americans is the greatest generation. We are blessed by the men and women who every year put themselves in harm’s way to safeguard us.
10. Farewell Robin Williams.
Remembering the service and sacrifice of those that serve is important. The comedian and actor Robin Williams, a staple of the USO circuit, lived that commitment. After 9/11, for example, Williams toured with the USO a half-dozen times, visiting 13 countries including Iraq and Afghanistan. During one memorable performance in Kuwait in 2007, he started the show early and had to stop when retreat was sounded. All the troops snapped to attention, facing away from the stage. Afterward, Williams quipped, “I am not going to forget that. I’ve never had an entire audience say, ‘Forget you.’” The troops will miss him.
Everyone has limitations, but we cannot allow them to determine who we are. The key is being self-aware. I am convinced that the most important piece of furniture in our homes is our mirror. We should routinely look in the mirror and do an honest self-assessment to determine our strengths, weaknesses and limitations. We should aggressively pursue candid feedback from our peers, colleagues, bosses, and subordinates. This is termed a “360 assessment.”
Once aware of our limitations, we have many ways to transcend them. One way is to get some additional education or experience that will allow us to improve those weaknesses. We should always seek ways to improve ourselves.
Another way is to surround yourself with folks who have strengths in those areas where you fall short. Allow them to compensate for your limitations.
Another way is reliance on God. I believe a key is faith. There really isn’t anything we can’t accomplish, if we do it with God.
Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. (Mark 10:27)
These days Hollywood has brought Moses back to the minds of many in the recently released movie Exodus: Gods and Kings. Now is a perfect time to stop and think about how Moses’ life can relate to today’s challenges.
See this as soon as you can. It’s getting an indie-style release — a limited release Christmas Day to put it in the Oscar running, then wide open January 16th — but that’s just nuts to me. In any sane America, this would be the hit of the year. It’s riveting, affecting, true, beautifully acted, moving — just terrific.
Bradley Cooper delivers on his promise to the late, great Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in American history, to get it right. The movie is patriotic without being jingoistic, lauds military courage and honor without being militaristic, and shows the brutal Islamist enemy as it is without bigotry towards persons.
My guess: The only reason this is being treated as an indie project is because the leftist elite will slam it. To hell with them. This is a wonderful American motion picture about a great American hero.
Senior leadership positions across America require stability. CEOs, community leaders, cabinet members need time to establish momentum. They should be selected very carefully, and then placed in position for a significant period of time. Successful corporations and organizations have senior leaders that have been in position for many years, in some cases decades.
It really is about time management for building effective organizations. Generally, senior leaders should spend the first 25% of their tenure building their team, establishing policies and procures, and putting systems in place. They should spend the next 50% of their time in the position in the execution phase, focused on getting things done. And then, for the good of the organization, they should spend the last 25% of their time preparing to transition well.
Case in point is the recent “resignation“ of the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. The Department of Defense requires stable leadership. The very fact that there has been 3 Secretaries of Defense in the past 6 years, with a 4th one on the horizon, should cause us all to pause. We as a Nation cannot afford unnecessary turbulence at this critical position. Several things must be considered to get a SecDef in place for the long haul that will help keep our Nation secure in these difficult times.
See Part I in this ongoing series about applying leadership principles to the big problems our nation faces and to our every day lives: “Leaders See Opportunities, not Obstacles.” Also pick up the book Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles from an American General.
I continue to find myself worried about the future of our Nation. The current situation in Ferguson, Missouri and other parts of our country is of great concern. Unfortunately, there are elements in our society who want to emphasize divisiveness over diversity. They want to drive a wedge between us. I saw this in Iraq during my service there. Folks there committed specific acts of terror to inflame tension between the Iraqi Shias and Sunnis. We can’t allow that to happen here in the United States of America.
I argue continuously that families, communities and organizations should celebrate diversity. They must move beyond simple tolerance and truly embrace and celebrate diversity. If they do that, everyone will flourish. All indicators of success will dramatically improve. We will be exponentially more effective. The US Military is a case in point.
In 1948 President Truman issued an executive order that it was his policy that all members of the armed services of the United States be given equal opportunities regardless of race, religion, color, or source of national origin. Today the US Armed Forces celebrate diversity. We embrace the concept that different folks bring different strengths to the table. We judge a person not based on their color, but on their character, competence, and contributions. We are far from perfect, but we in the military are quantum leaps above the rest of society when it comes to celebrating diversity.
Why can’t we as a Nation do that? Why is it necessary to stereotype someone based on his or her color or religion? Why can’t we celebrate the differences, and use everyone’s contribution to improve our society and make America better place for all to live and flourish? It can be done.
I am convinced that our Nation is in imminent danger from terrorists of all types, including domestic terrorists. There are folks among us who want to incite fear and inflame riots and demonstrations for the sole purpose of establishing divisions between us. They want our Nation to be broken into subgroups as opposed to emphasizing our diversity. We must put an end to this.
The solution to this problem will not be found in Washington DC, but rather in our own homes and communities. Let’s look closely at how we are living our lives, make appropriate changes, and truly embrace and celebrate diversity. Our children and their children will thank us for that.
Automatic budget sequestration cut deeply into the U.S. Air Force’s training in 2012. Air Combat Command got just $3.1 billion—three-quarters of what it needed to fully train the thousands of pilots flying the command’s 1,600 F-15, F-16 and F-22 fighters, A-10 attack jets and B-1 bombers.
So the command did something radical—and with far-reaching consequences as American air power retools for fighting high-tech foes following more than decade bombing insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Air Combat Command stripped certain airplanes of many of their missions, thus cutting back on the number of flight hours a particular pilot needed to be officially war-ready. Air-to-air dogfighting and low-altitude maneuvering suddenly became much rarer skills.
Perhaps most interestingly, the command essentially barred F-16s—at a thousand strong, America’s most numerous fighter—from engaging any enemy jet newer than a 1970s-vintage MiG-23.
They are veterans not victims. Every once in a while, Hollywood captures the nobility of the American veteran. Coming home may not always be easy, but those who have worn their country’s uniform have done much to nurture, shape, and enrich this nation. Here are 10 movies that tell their story.
1. The Searchers (1956)
This story of a complex and conflicted veteran “hero” fighting his personal demons and a savage frontier is widely regarded as one of the greatest American films ever made. It’s based on a novel by Alan Le May which draws from actual events that occurred in 1836. On film, the story is moved to after the Civil War. John Wayne plays one of the three million veterans who came home after the conflict. When his niece is abducted during an Indian raid, Wayne embarks on a violent 10-year search to find her. In the end, he rides off into the sunset, triumphing over both hatred and adversity.
Every Memorial Day and Veterans Day I have one wish: for Americans to mark these solemn days with as much respect and seriousness as our greatest allies in the Middle East, the Israelis, honor their heroes. Today is Veterans Day, and yesterday was the anniversary of the U.S. Marines Corps. Across the United States, we will honor in some strange ways the sacrifice of those who served in our armed forces in peacetime and during war, with sales on linens and kitchen goods being among the most common. On Memorial Day in the United States, a day in which Americans are given the day off to memorialize those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our freedom, we for some reason “celebrate” with beers and BBQ. The juxtaposition between how Americans and Israelis mark the day is stark, and provides lessons for how we can improve how we honor our troops and those who have given their lives for our country.
In Israel, Memorial Day is called Yom Hazikaron. It falls on the day before Israel’s Independence Day — Yom Haatzmaut. The two days are linked — the day of sadness and introspection leads into a day of celebration. This linkage of the two lends additional importance and gravitas for Memorial Day. One day in the future, hopefully soon, generations of Israelis will grow up not knowing war or conflict. For these Israelis, the pairing of Memorial Day and Independence Day will help explain how it is only through sacrifice that freedom and independence come. The feeling of pure elation on Independence Day is felt through the country and celebrated in a multitude of ways, including dance parties in the streets of major cities, like Jerusalem. Israel is a young country, and each generation has faced war. The celebration of the existence and very survival of the Jewish state is one taken seriously by Israelis and Jews everywhere.
On Israel’s Memorial Day all places of entertainment — amusement parks, golf courses, movie theatres, nightclubs, and bars — are closed. It’s understood that this is a day of solemnity, not fun. While schools and most workplaces are closed, it’s not treated as a “day off” by Israelis — it’s a time to truly honor those who have made Israel’s existence and survival possible.
February 1943 Journal entry: The sound of agitated parrots screeching from the jungle below startles me to a wide-eyed awakening. The morning sun is just above the horizon. I pause for a moment to get re-oriented to the surroundings that have been home for the last six months. Living on top of a mountain in the Solomon Islands may seem like paradise, but in these times, I must live like a reptile, below detection, going about my business, which is also the business of Her Majesty.
My vigil is on a tiny island of the Solomons known as “the Slot.” This island makes for the perfect ammunitions and refueling depot for the enemy, which also makes it the perfect outpost to warn the allies of the approaching enemy fleet.
My camp is high on an overgrown plateau, two miles from the bay. Each day I trek along a ridge where I can look northward, out over the south pacific. If an advance comes, it will come from out there, from the north, from Japan.
I travel light, and as far as I know, never leave a trace. I always take a slightly different route so as not to create a path. I also stage my movements to avoid a Zero who flies over on a routine patrol four times a day. As dangerous as this is and as insect-infested and uncomfortable as it is, I much prefer it to the desk job back in Auckland, where the pests are of the two-legged variety. Here I can make a difference.
There is one pest, however, who was always welcome at my desk: Kathleen O’Hara. She has crystal blue eyes, auburn hair, a face-load of freckles, and her uniform is always pressed to perfection. Oh Kathleen, if you were only here now, we would not get a darn thing done for the war effort. On the other hand, if you were here, I would worry.
But now, I need to investigate those parrots; parrots don’t just go loudly flying about the forest without being disturbed by something or someone. They are better watchdogs than watchdogs.
My camp is accessible only by scaling a vertical wall of rock. When I go out on patrol, I leave a knotted rope hanging over the edge; neatly tucked it into a crevice. The rope makes my return climb easier.
Down on my chest, I crawl to the edge of the drop-off, lie low, and peer over the edge. I look for movement and listen for the singsong of Japanese voices.
My best defense is camouflage. I have not had a real fire for weeks. To keep smoke down, I do all my cooking in a tin over a kerosene lamp and stay well sheltered under the cover of dense foliage where it is not possible for me even to stand. Still, you can never tell what a Zero passing overhead might see.
I would never be able to hold off a full-fledged assault if they discover my location. My carbine, grenades and a few well placed booby-traps would only tend to make them more vengeful if and when they did overtake me.
Well, I do have another weapon, a cyanide capsule. Actually, it was more of an order than a weapon. I keep it as close as my carbine. I figure I’ll take out as many of them as I can, set off the booby-traps, then take the pill.
Hello! Something is moving through the palmettos and along the ledge just below.
I pull some fallen palm fronds over my head and leave just enough opening to see out. Suddenly, I hear that approaching Zero, off schedule. It passes over, low and banking. Confirmation: a search party is on the prowl. They’re onto me.
How could they have seen me? I am well concealed. Did they smell me?
I don’t have the luxury of bathing often; they, on the other hand, are obsessed with it. Every evening they go to a makeshift bathhouse in their camp. They marinate themselves inside and out, all in the same effort. They are either clean or drunk or both half the time. That will change when the lads of 3-Divisionland on the south side of this rock.
It doesn’t matter though, if I am fragrance-free or not; something has stirred them up and they are going to keep searching until they find something.
Maybe HQ will call me in, now that I am compromised.
My only escape from the island is by way of one of the Yank subs in the area. I don’t know exactly where they are, but I have seen three Japanese transports explode as they approach the island.
It must be the Yanks out there stirring things up; that’s gotta be why Tojo is searching now. If I can make it through this day, I will radio for help tonight while the Japs are busy with their compulsive bathing.
What was that?
Something just came up hard against my foot. This is it, Jesus save me and God, save the Queen.
PJ Lifestyle begins a new feature in the style of PJ Lifestyle Sunshine, another byline collecting and organizing images and videos around the web. The series now upgrades to a global approach, beginning a series of lists organized by animals and location. Please send in pics and videos of your pets and online favorites to DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com or tweet to @DaveSwindle
The collection so far, future installments will strive to match up videos with their locations:
Chihuahua in Rome
Maura the Siberian Husky in Los Angeles
Dogs and Cats Together
11. Wonder Woman
Her fresh, All-American face premiered on comic book stands during World War II, making her the greatest enemy of the Axis powers. Daughters of original readers would go on to be inspired by Lynda Carter’s televisual portrayal of the superheroine in the 1970s. The Wonder Woman arsenal includes a dual-function tiara with bracelets to match and the awesome Lasso of Truth. Before there was Lara Croft or a chick named Buffy, Wonder Woman proved that strength could be sexy and gave Captain America a run for his patriotism with her flag-bearing style.
John Phillip Sousa on 33 1/3 blasts from the Hi-Fi — yes, you heard right, “Hi-Fi” — conducted by my flag-waving Grandfather, proudly standing at attention at 8 o’clock in the morning in the doorway of his open garage, wondering why it took us so long to get there. We may have been at the shore, but Memorial Day was not about a barbecue on the beach.
My grandparents lived down the street from my Great Uncle and Aunt. My Grandfather idolized my Great Uncle (his brother), naming his only son after his brother who had spent World War II as a gunner on a Navy ship in the Pacific. Having broken his back before the war, my Grandfather wasn’t able to get into the military during the conflict. Instead, he busied himself crafting knives to send to his buddies overseas (yes, they censored letters, but allowed knives to be carried through V-Mail) with the instructions “leave them in the enemy’s guts and I’ll make you a new one when you get home.”
My grandfather also played a key role in the war effort, one that goes overlooked when we take the time to honor the troops on Memorial Day. Recruited by the FBI in 1940, my grandfather and his father played a key role in the creation of the Iowa Ordinance Plant, the largest shell and bomb loading facility in operation during the war.
In the autumn of 1940, when a fairly isolationist population still dismissed the idea of entering into Europe’s conflict, my grandfather was pulled out of his job as a tool and die maker by two fairly typical FBI mugs. They strapped secret plans for a military facility, designed by Day & Zimmermann, Co., to his body and handed him a train ticket and a gun with the instructions, “Don’t be afraid to use it.” At the age of 23, my grandfather was the perfect cover: “If anyone asks, you’re on your way out west to go to college.” His job was simple: Escort his father, recruited by the government for his skills as a tool and die maker, to San Francisco to convene with a number of highly skilled Americans engaged to prepare America for war.
It’s easier somehow, to think of “war casualties” as stark numbers on a spreadsheet, disconnected from the human lives attached to those numbers. Unless a combat death suddenly crashes into our safe little world, we seldom stop to think of the lives represented by those casualty numbers we hear on the news — the families whose lives were shattered in an instant and for whom there will alway be a missing piece. The little boy who was too young to form memories of his father who was killed in action. The father who won’t be there to teach his son to throw a baseball or ride a bike or be a husband. The daughter who won’t have her father there to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. The mother who will grieve the death of her daughter until she takes her dying breath. For those families, there is no list of casualties on a spreadsheet. There is only one casualty that matters — the one that turned their world upside-down and left a permanent void in their lives.
Memorial Day is the time we set aside each year to remember and to show our gratitude for those who paid the ultimate price to secure the blessings of liberty for the rest of us. As we honor that sacrifice, let us also remember the families who bear the terrible burden of carrying on without their loved ones. Those families who will always have an empty place at the dinner table and an ache in their hearts.
“It is well that war is so terrible,” General Robert E. Lee lamented, “otherwise we would grow too fond of it.” On the other side of the Civil War, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman stated more simply that “war is hell.” They knew fighting for a cause always meant good soldiers suffer; some make the ultimate sacrifice; and often innocents get tragically caught in the crossfire. War always comes at a terrible cost.
Here are ten war films to watch this Memorial Day that will make you weep.
#10. Gunga Din
A 1939 adventure film “inspired” by the Rudyard Kipling poem follows the exploits of three British army lieutenants — Cutter (Cary Grant), MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) — on the Indian frontier. The movie is all dash and panache, except for the erstwhile native water carrier, Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe), whose only dream is to be a real soldier. In the end, it’s the regimental “beastie,” shot, bayonetted, but carrying on, who saves the day before he falls. Sob along at the end of the film when the colonel declares over the funeral pyre, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”
Stories about World War II have been a major part of American popular culture for decades. From the Warner Bros. war films of the 1940s to Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and beyond, there is a consistent magnetism towards America’s Greatest Generation and the war they fought against totalitarianism. Many people have relatives who were in the war or have met veterans that have made an impact on their life. Without question, WWII vets are a special, unique group whose stories deserve to be shared.
In The Fight in the Clouds, author James P. Busha organizes the many interviews he conducted with WWII fighter pilots over the years into one volume. Busha, a pilot himself, is also editor of EAA Warbirds of America, EAA Vintage Aircraft Association publications, and contributing editor for Flight Journal. The book opens with specifications about the P-51 Mustang that will be helpful to those new to the topic.
These pilots, like their planes, were tough as nails. The only accepted defeat was death. The tales range from fun practice runs, harrowing fights into enemy territory, and postwar musings. The Fight in the Clouds begins with a powerful introduction about the story of 2nd Lt. James Des Jardins and his brother, who both lost their lives serving our country in World War II. Their story is told, in part, through primary documents in the form of Western Union telegrams. Reading the words of the time always presents a unique and often influential response. This book, according to Busha, was written for those “who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country as they laid their lives on the line to ensure that future generations would enjoy the freedoms and liberties that have been bestowed upon us.”
One of the many stories that stuck out to me was that of Capt. Clayton “Kelly” Gross, who was in a dogfight with “one of Hitler’s wonder weapons,” a Messerschmitt Me 262:
I felt the stick budge as I tried to pull out of my screaming dive. I thought for sure was going to tear the wings off and dive the Mustang deep into German soil! As I pulled out, I found myself right on the 262’s tail. In a split second I lined him up. At a hundred feet away, he was hard to miss. I gave him a little squirt that tore up his left jet engine and shredded his left wingtip. With a moment of greater forward speed than the jet, I overshot him and pulled off to the right. The 262 pulled straight up and I knew the Mustang couldn’t catch him no matter how fast I was going. I thought I lost him as he pulled over a thousand feet away, but I was watching as he stopped in midair and began to tail slide back down. His canopy came off and out popped the pilot. I finally got my jet!
Chief David Oliver put Brimfield, Ohio — population 3343 — on the map with his epic Facebook rants that have gained national attention. The Brimfield Police Department’s Facebook page currently has more than 93,000 “likes.” The police chief started the Facebook page three years ago, hoping to engage with his tiny community, but his blunt opinions mixed with offbeat humor have resulted in a much wider audience and even a book, No Mopes Allowed (“Mopes” is an old-fashioned cop term for criminal types).
Today, Kanye West became the target of Oliver’s acerbic pronunciations when Chief Oliver reacted to an interview in which Kanye compared his career as a rapper to the perils faced by U.S. soldiers and police officers. Kanye told Saturday Night Online,
“I’m just giving of my body on the stage and putting my life at risk, literally,” West said to host Garrett, referring to his tour performances of songs during which he stands on top of a moving mountain.
“That mountain goes really, really high,” he continued. “And if I slipped … You never know. And I think about it. I think about my family and I’m like ‘Wow, this is like being a police officer or something, in war or something.’”
Chief Oliver put Kanye’s flippant statements in perspective with surgical precision:
Dear Kanye West,
I am honored to be writing such an important star. I am a mere Internet sensation. I’m not sure I am worthy to address you, although the Huffington Post did say I was “Humorous and Insanely Popular.” I don’t pay much attention to those things. Anyway, please excuse my interference in your life for a quick second.
I read your interview and also watched it on video. You said:
“I’m just giving of my body on the stage and putting my life at risk, literally.….and I think about it. I think about my family and I’m like, wow, this is like being a police officer or something, in war or something.”
I want to thank you for putting your life on the line for all of us every day. I know that being a rapper is tough work. I have tried to rap, and it is very difficult to keep up with the pulse of the rhyme flow…although when Ice Ice Baby comes on the radio, I can usually keep up with ol’ Vanilla. Anywho, your job is just some very dangerous work. Most people don’t consider… if you rap really fast, without a chance to inhale, you could pass out and hit your head.
That last paragraph was covered in sarcasm. I’m letting you know, just so you do not think I agree with your very ignorant assessment of your career (or any other performer)as it relates to a person in the military or a police officer’s service. You sir, are as misguided as they come. I do have a suggestion for you. Since you are accustomed to danger, from your life as an international rapper, I am strongly encouraging you immediately abandon you career as a super star and join the military. After joining, I would like you to volunteer to be deployed in Afghanistan or one of the numerous other forward locations where our men an women are currently serving. When the Taliban starts shooting at you, perhaps you could stand up and let the words flow. It could be something like “I’m Kanye West, wearing a flak vest.” I’m sure they would just drop weapons and surrender. You could quite possibly end all wars, just from the enemy being star-struck.
Your line of thinking is part of the problem in the world today….which include entertainers thinking they are something more than just entertainers. I know it is supply and demand and the demand for your services is high. I get economics. What I do not get is you EVER comparing what you do for a living to our heroic military members, who are always in harm’s way… and my brother and sister police officers who have to go to work carrying weapons and wearing a bullet-proof vest to protect themselves.
Check yourself, before you wreck yourself….Chief Oliver.
Well done, Chief Oliver. Keep up the good work.
During the weekend before Thanksgiving, thousands of comic book, sci-fi and television aficionados gathered in Boston for the annual Super Megafest. Among those present to greet them were Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), Sgt Slaughter, and many others. Joining these stars were a number of the most popular internet models in the business. The guests, many of whom came dressed as their favorite characters, were also met by another common theme: opportunities to give back to our troops though a charity of their choice.
“We’re happy to do it,” said a man selling raffle tickets for an oil painting of Star Wars villains Boba Fett and Darth Maul facing off against each other, signed by the actors who played them (Jeremy Bulloch and Ray Park, respectively) who were also on hand for pictures and autographs. The money from the raffle went toward the Wounded Warrior Foundation.
At the entrance to the event and wandering the corridors were uniformed Marines collecting donations for the Corps’ Toys for Tots Program. At one point a pair of Marines attracted the attention of a number of adult actresses. One of them, Sophie Dee, said that they were big fans of the Marines and Toys for Tots. “We try to give back,” she said, adding that she and her fellow stars often hold fundraisers for the cause.
While a precise accounting is not available, sources say that despite the bad economy the fundraising was a success.
This is all welcome news – especially given the fact that, of all the programs Obama could cut in its sham attempts to look fiscally responsible, the administration is moving to eliminate discount supermarkets that service low-income Military families.
Many commentators, most eloquently Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal, draw a parallel between the appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938 and the appeasement of Iran at Geneva. There is another, more chilling parallel: Iran’s motive for proposing to annihilate the Jewish State is the same as Hitler’s, and the world’s indifference to the prospect of another Holocaust is no different today than it was in 1938. It is the dead’s envy for the living.
Dying civilizations are the most dangerous, and Iran is dying. Its total fertility rate probably stands at just 1.6 children per female, the same level as Western Europe, a catastrophic decline from 7 children per female in the early 1980s. Iran’s present youth bulge will turn into an elderly dependent problem worse than Europe’s in the next generation and the country will collapse. That is why war is likely, if not entirely inevitable.
Iran’s Elderly Dependent Ratio
|Year||Elderly Dependent Ratio|
Source: UN “Low Variant”
The table above is drawn from United Nations projections. It probably underestimates Iran’s predicament: the UN’s “low variant” puts the country’s total fertility rate at 1.9 children as of 2015, but it already has fallen to just 1.6. This means in simple arithmetic that a generation hence, there will be two elderly dependents for every three workers, compared to 7 elderly dependents for every 93 workers today. That is a death sentence for a poor country, and at this point it is virtually irreversible.
As the United States Institute of Peace wrote in its April 2013 “Iran Primer”:
“Iran’s low fertility rate has produced a rapidly aging population, according to a new U.N. report. The rate has declined from 2.2 births per woman in 2000 to 1.6 in 2012. This has pushed the median age of Iranians to 27.1 years in 2010, up from 20.8 years in 2000. The median age could reach 40 years by 2030, according to the U.N. Population Division. An elderly and dependent population may heavily tax Iran’s public health infrastructure and social security network.”
In 2005 and 2006, I was the first Western analyst to draw strategic conclusions from this trend, the steepest decline in fertility in the history of the world. Iran must break out and establish a Shiite zone of power, or it will break down.
Iran’s theocracy displays the same apocalyptic panic about its demographic future that Hitler expressed about the supposed decline of the so-called Aryan race. Unlike Hitler, whose racial paranoia ran wild, Iran’s presentiment of national death is well founded on the facts. That is not to understate Iran’s paranoia. In 2013 Iran’s vice president alleged that Jews ran the international drug trade. In a June 2013 Facebook post earlier this year Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei wrote, “U.S. President is being elected [sic] only from two parties while Zionist regime is controlling everything from behind the scenes.” That captions a cartoon showing fat men with moneybags for heads under a Star of David. Iranian officials routinely threaten to “annihilate the Zionist regime.”
As we take a too-infrequent moment to honor the service of our men and women in uniform this Veterans Day, let us consider our language and test whether it does them justice.
Commonly, we refer to the contribution made by those who serve in the military as a sacrifice. Our veterans have given up relatively comfortable alternatives to place themselves in harm’s way and protect our liberties. When we call that a sacrifice, we mean it honorably. Nevertheless, we may be selling our now and future veterans short by continuing to think of their choice in that way.
What is a sacrifice? It’s one of those words, like “love,” which has many nuanced meanings depending upon the context in which one uses it. For our purposes in this discussion, let’s settle upon this definition: a trade of value for something of lesser or no value. In order for something to be sacrificial, it must leave the giver worse off than they were before, right? How often do we lift up as virtue the notion of doing something for others without any expectation of receiving something in return?
Yet many of the things we commonly refer to as sacrifice do not fit that definition. When a college student passes on a night out with friends to stay in and study for a big test, he hardly ends up worse off for the trade. Yet, we call it a sacrifice. When a parent prioritizes the needs of their children above her own personal needs, she rarely thinks of the trade as a loss. Yet we think of that as sacrificial too.
In truth, many if not most of the things we call sacrifices actually stand as rational value judgments. Studying for an important test has greater value than a single night out on the town. Providing for one’s children has greater value than indulging yourself to their neglect. We make such choices in pursuit of our values, not at their expense.
The same applies to our men and women in uniform. Enlistment rationally values the nation’s security and individual liberties above mere safety. That is what makes it so honorable! That is why we stand in awe of our veterans and offer them our thanks, because the choice to protect what the rest of us take for granted declares something of their character. It tells us what they value, and how much they value it. I imagine few if any enlist hoping to lose life or limb as a “sacrifice.” Rather, they accept the risk to life and limb as an affirmation of that which they value — life in a free country. As the beneficiaries of that choice, we ought not diminish it by calling it a sacrifice.