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March 9, 2022

Patriots, Inspiration Is Always Nearby!

There is much good and right across our nation, despite the divisive Beltway haters.

“I have lived, Sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a Sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?” —Benjamin Franklin (1787)

At this moment in history, when many American Patriots are rightfully focused on failing domestic and foreign policies — some disastrous and some very deadly — there are bright spots among the deafening Leftmedia din. Indeed, despite all the MSM handwringing about what is wrong with America (good news doesn’t sell advertising), there is plenty of inspiration across our nation, far from the statist Beltway politicos and bureaucrats who sacrifice unity and comity on the altar of division and hate.

Recently, I’ve been reminded that our paths are often marked with fitting reminders of what makes America great. I have often advised those who are prone to pessimism to stop and pay attention to simple blessings and mercies. They are all around us. Sometimes the markers on our paths include celebrating the lives of Patriots after they have departed.

In the last two weeks, we have interred a lifelong Marine friend with full Honors at National Cemetery and, as I noted last week, we lost another longtime friend, Vietnam POW Bill Gauntt, who was, indeed, a hero.

Side Note: The word “hero” is overused and misapplied, particularly in regard to the challenges and trials associated with the COVID pandemic over the last two years. Indeed, there are those in the medical profession who have done their jobs well under difficult circumstances.

But allow me to offer my own definition of “hero” in the proper context: “An ordinary person faced with extraordinary circumstances, summoning the greatest measure of courage in order to place his or her life at immediate mortal risk to save the life of another.” Thus, “hero” is a word that should be reserved exclusively for that level of service and sacrifice, be it by an average citizen, a first responder, or a Patriot in uniform.

To that end, we came together in the departures of our friends to celebrate their lives, not to dwell on their deaths.

Bill was a fellow member of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center’s Advisory Board, and it was there today that we celebrated the life of another distinguished heroic veteran .

I did not know astronaut Richard “Dick” Scobee, but I have known his family for three decades — his wife June Scobee Rodgers and their children, Kathie Scobee Fulgham and Lt Gen Richard Scobee (USAF). I last wrote about June on the 30th anniversary of the 1986 death of her husband and his Challenger Space Shuttle (STS-51-L) crew, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Michael Smith, and Ronald McNair.

Dick was an E1 Air Force mechanic when he and June first met. He had always wanted to fly and, remarkably, rose through the enlisted ranks and completed his aerospace education, becoming a Vietnam combat pilot. After Vietnam, Dick became a test pilot on his way to the officer rank of Lt Col before becoming an astronaut and Shuttle command pilot.

On the evening that Dick Scobee and his crew perished, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation, saying: “The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

Dick is among a handful of astronauts who have received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor since its creation in 1969. The recipients are those who, in the performance of their duties, have distinguished themselves “by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the nation and of mankind.” It is the rarest of such awards.

He, and by extension his family, his crew, and their families, will now be honored in a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Space Medal of Honor at the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center.

Heritage Center Executive Director David Currey notes: “It is important to remember that we, as outside observers, only witness a small part of the astronaut experience. Together as a nation, we have celebrated their achievements and agonized over their tragedies — from the Mercury program forward. However, these men and women, along with their families, make tremendous sacrifices that certainly go above and beyond the call of duty. The life of Lt Col Dick Scobee is a testament to the courage, commitment, and many of those sacrifices that are sometimes necessary to fully realize one’s dreams. We are honored that the Scobee family has given us the opportunity to tell that story.”

The primary mission of the Heritage Center is to educate the next generation of Americans about the six character traits associated with the Medal of Honor: Courage, Sacrifice, Patriotism, Citizenship, Integrity, and Commitment.

I invite you to view the Heritage Center’s tribute video to Dick Scobee and his family.

In the years since 1986, June has turned tragedy into triumph, honoring the loss of her beloved husband and his crew with the establishment of the Challenger Centers for Space Science Education — STEM learning centers across the nation that serve to inspire countless young people toward careers in the sciences.

I know few people who embody June’s abundance of character and unbridled optimism. Whenever she is in the room, inspiration is always near bye! You can read a bit about her story in a tribute, “A Silver Lining to Storms of Sorrow.” You can also watch an interview with June about her heartbreak and resilience that fateful day in 1986.

Finally, I should mention that, after an introduction to my friend, LTG Don Rodgers (USA, Ret.), by then-president George H.W. Bush, June and Don were married in 1989, and the two of them have made a remarkable team in the years since.

(Visit the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center website. Please consider making a designated gift to support the National Medal of Honor Sustaining Fund, or make a check payable to Liberty Fund (noting MoH Sustaining Fund on the memo line), and mail to Patriot Foundation Trust, PO Box 407, Chattanooga, TN 37401-0407.)

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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