B.B. Bell / Nov. 24, 2020

Thanksgiving for Our Military Patriots

“Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.” —John Adams

“Who am I? Why am I here?” For those of you who are old enough to remember this opening vice-presidential debate statement in 1992, you will recall it was VADM James Stockdale. Of course, he was pilloried by the Leftmedia propagandists and portrayed as a confused, old, hard-of-hearing joke of a man on the bottom of Ross Perot’s ticket.

But as journalist Eric Black reminds us, “James Stockdale was a hardened Navy warrior pilot during the Vietnam War. He was shot down over North Vietnam, captured, frequently beaten, and held prisoner of war for seven years. He was routinely tortured, but he also managed to engage in enough resistance that he was eventually isolated by the Vietnamese from the main POW population. Fellow POWs have said that Stockdale was a hero — to whom other prisoners looked for leadership and inspiration. Stockdale suffered many physical disabilities and lifelong hearing loss from the beatings he received at the hands of the north Vietnamese.”

Rising to the rank of Vice Admiral, Stockdale retired in 1979 after serving as president of the Naval War College. He went on to write about the philosophy of the great Greek stoics and served as president of the Citadel before agreeing to be Perot’s running mate. Far — very far — from a joke of a man as he was portrayed in the media. He rightly was awarded the Medal of Honor by a grateful nation for his valorous service.

Sound bites and video outtakes are often ruthless in misrepresenting the truth of a person’s character, heart, and soul. God rest your soul, Admiral Stockdale.

To my point, as military Patriots, who are we and why are we here? I believe VADM Stockdale still asks us that question from his final resting place in the Naval Academy’s cemetery at Annapolis. I hope this great man will allow me to speak briefly on this behalf.

I’ll spare you a look at who we are. Military Patriots know who you are. Thank you for your service and sacrifice on behalf of our Republic, and to its grand experiment in American Liberty by the people and for the people. That’s who we are — selfless servants.

Which leads me to explore the next and most important question: “Why are we here?” Let me give you a couple of my thoughts.

In its Preamble, our Constitution declares what we could and should be. It proclaims, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

Today’s United States is a far cry from that vision laid out in the Preamble. Many of our citizens loudly denounce American ideals, initially set forth in our Declaration of Independence and the American Liberty it outlined. They prefer a centralized socialist or even Marxist government — knowing little about the realities of life under either. Many of our citizens no longer see the need for any spiritual underpinnings for our approach to governance as espoused in the Bill of Rights. Traditional values of a nuclear family, hard work, independence, self-governance, free-market enterprise, personal freedoms, a diverse melting pot, individual property ownership, opportunity, responsibility and accountability, and even law and order itself are often seen as impediments to so-called social progress.

Many see America’s magnificent diversity as best described as mere groups of institutionally deprived, divided, and fractured victims who must therefore tear down our Republic and start over from scratch to establish a centralized utopian rule over all our lives. Many believe they are entitled — and hard work to achieve is unnecessary.

So, there it is, veterans. The grand republic you served is now under siege from within. Will we go the way of the Romans? Or will we meet the expectations of our Pledge of Allegiance for “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”?

Veterans, our mandate is clear. It’s why we’re here. And here’s what we need to do.

First, we need to argue for, support, teach, and live the concept of a nuclear family, where families and family values — not government — are the bedrock and building blocks of our free society. We need to teach our youth and young adults American civics in kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as in our universities. The structure of government and the rights and duties of American citizenship can be protected only if our young people know what those rights and duties are — and why they’re important.

We must stand up for the religious freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. We must all understand and indeed champion the intent of our Constitution, which is to guarantee religious freedom in the public square — not to hide it out of sight and out of mind secretly behind the walls of religious sanctuaries with dwindling congregations.

We must loudly and forcefully demand a return to a free and open press — a press that stays out of taking sides in the political arena and keeps check on government excesses and abuses across all ideological spectrums. We must prevent the rise of a State Media.

Remember, Pravda was the all-powerful state media of the Soviet Union and it spewed state propaganda and led the effort to indoctrinate Soviet citizens into the false narratives and promises of communism. We cannot allow the American press to stay on the path it’s on. The press must return to its roots as the fourth estate of American governance and keep checks and balances on it.

And importantly, we must preserve the First Amendment right of all Americans to speak freely. Free speech means the free and public expression of opinions without censorship or fear. Today, in the era of exploding wokeness, cancel culture, and social media censorship, free speech is becoming a suppressed and risky relic. Just like it is a relic in the socialist and communist countries of today.

Lastly, we must support a community and a nation of laws, as well as a police structure to ensure order under those laws. Law and order. If we don’t like the laws, then change them civilly. Americans must live in an orderly society. When order breaks down, America goes with it.

So there it is, ahead of this Thanksgiving Day, the day when we express gratitude for the sacrifices of all who have gone before, those who have bequeathed to us the greatest nation on Earth. This is our mandate for America. We have the mission. Now we — all 20 million living American veterans — must saddle up. We cannot sit idly by as our constitutional republic crumbles before our very eyes and slides into socialism, thus destroying the nation we all love. It’s why we’re here.

Too many of you fought for America, and too many died to let it slip away on our watch. Our mandate is our guidepost to continue the mission first given us in our oaths of enlistment or commissioning “to support and defend” our Constitution.

This outfit, America, is more than worth preserving. It’s the blessing of all free men and women. Preserving it is our charge. I leave you with one thought: the motto of my regiment, the 9th Cavalry, the historic Buffalo Soldiers. That motto is “We Can, We Will.” And, respectfully, I must add “We must!” It’s who we are and why we’re here.

To those of you who are not veterans, but who are Patriots with a shared commitment to Liberty and Freedom, as my friend Mark Alexander recently wrote, to genuinely demonstrate our love of country and gratitude for Patriots who have and continue to defend the Liberty we enjoy, “Strive to be, first and foremost, an American citizen worthy of their sacrifice.”

Stand firm in the words of George Washington: “Our Cause is Noble; It is the Cause of All Mankind.”

May God preserve the United States of America, and may God bless each of you this Thanksgiving with His Grace and Mercy.

B.B. Bell, General, U.S. Army (Ret), is a member of The Patriot Post’s National Advisory Committee. He served in uniform for almost four decades, including extended deployments overseas in both peace and war.

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