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Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

I remember reading about two marines in the Pacific who won the Medal of Honor, one of them posthumously. The story was in a Time-Life Book series I bought about World War Two. It told the story of a Marine Special Weapons Platoon, in charge of guarding the Zanana beach supply area from being retaken by the Japanese on New Georgia. The Platoon put together a couple of 30 caliber machine guns from spare parts and established a rear guard post. Corporal Maier Rothschild and Private John Wantuck volunteered to man the guns. The platoon came under attack from a Japanese battalion, and retreated individually back to the beach, regrouping to face the next charge. It never came. In the morning, the Marines found Wantuck, and Rothschild had been cut off. They found these two Marines with more than a hundred dead Japanese littered around their spare-parts machine gun positions. Wantuck lay dead next to his empty gun, encircled by dead Japanese he had killed with his knife and grenades. Rothschild, wounded, lay surrounded by dead enemies. A Japanese General’s attack failed because of two bad ass American Marines.

Since the Marine Corps just celebrated their birthday, I used this one of many incredible true stories of America’s vets to remember this Veterans’ Day. Thank you all for your dedication, honor, and patriotism. Thank you all for our freedom.

Let me close this with a portion of French President Sarkozy’s speech to our US Congress, thanking America’s Veterans:

“The men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars.

The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.

Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as a whole.

Fathers took their sons to the beaches where the young men of America had so heroically landed. They read them the admirable letters of farewell that those 20-year-old soldiers had written to their families before the battle to tell them: "We don't consider ourselves heroes. We want this war to be over. But however much dread we may feel, you can count on us." Before they landed, Eisenhower told them: "The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."

And as they listened to their fathers, watched movies, read history books and the letters of soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy and Provence, as they visited the cemeteries where the star-spangled banner flies, the children of my generation understood that these young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children.”

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