On this Veterans Day, when America reveres those who have served in the military, retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf provides a glimpse into the source of the courage that inspires such service: “Confidence with character — that’s what you must have,” says the Army commander who led the way to victory in the 1991 Gulf War.
Veterans Day is parades, the Tomb of the Unknowns, a flag-draped Main Street, children and old men with hands over their hearts, but a lot of the celebration is words – great words describing great courage and paying homage to present and past warriors, and sometimes even future military heroes.
When Schwarzkopf was fresh back from the Gulf War triumph, he was asked to speak to the cadet corps at West Point, his alma mater. The hero whose demeanor earned him the label “Stormin’ Norman” was brimming with pride in the caliber of America’s armed forces when he boomed forth to the ranks of the young men and women of the United States Military Academy: “It takes a war to demonstrate that we have these people in our ranks — and our ranks are loaded with them. They are loaded with them, and you are going to be one of them when you join our ranks. And if there is any doubt in anybody’s mind or was any doubt in anybody’s mind, there sure in hell isn’t any doubt now — because it has taken us 100 hours to kick the ass of the fourth-largest army in the world!”
Schwarzkopf had the young cadets in the palm of his hand by the time he his final points reverberated across the assembly: “If you leave here with the word DUTY implanted in your mind; if you leave here with the word HONOR carved in your soul; if you leave here with love of COUNTRY stamped on your heart, then you will be a 21st-century leader worthy of the great privilege and honor of leading the sons and daughters of America . . .”
Schwarzkopf’s inspirational message can be seen and heard on a new online patriotism portal that opened formally today in honor of Veterans Day.
The Web site, GreatAmericans.com, is intended to provide inspiring videos about great Americans, says the site’s creator, Matt Daniels. The first video offering, an exclusive chat with Schwarzkopf, features Daniels as the interviewer and moderator.
“GreatAmericans.com celebrates citizens in every area of society whose lives offer a positive example to others,” Daniels told Newsmax. “As the first step in the pursuit of this vision, the Web site focuses on the men and women who serve our nation in uniform.”
As the Web site develops, segments will feature not only military heroes but also great figures and role models from law enforcement, fire- rescue, NASA, Homeland Security, and “everyday American heroes,” Daniels said.
In addition, the site provides an interactive forum allowing visitors to comment on subjects ranging from their military experience to a specific video or current affairs item.
GreatAmericans.com also features an online memorial to American heroes in uniform.
So if you need to borrow a cup of pride or a fistful of patriotism, there will be a handy place to visit — and only as far away as your computer.
Catch Stormin’ Norman recounting the courageous act that earned him one of his three Silver Stars: “My knees were shaking to beat the band. I actually had to reach down and hold my knee. Every step I take, I would have to hold my knee, expecting at any minute for the knee to blow up under me . . . ”
The incident occurred when he was a commander in Vietnam, flying in his company’s chopper to the scene where some of his troops had become ensnared in a mine field. One of the soldiers had tripped one of the buried explosives and was writhing on the ground — sure to trigger yet another blast.
Risking his own life, Schwarzkopf inched his way to the side of the wounded man to splint his ripped and broken leg and keep him from thrashing about.
Later, after visiting his wounded at the hospital, he received a memorable accolade from one of his black noncommissioned officers. “As I walked out,” he recalls in the video, “an African-American sergeant, a non-commissioned officer, came up to me and said, ‘Sir, I want you to know that you will never have any problem from the African-American community. We saw what you did today and the fact that you cared enough about one of us to go out there and risk your life — you won’t every have to worry about a problem.’”
Daniels, who has listened to the whole remarkable story, concludes: “In the final analysis, it’s character that counts.”
The video cuts to the Gulf hero explaining the role of the famous West Point motto in his life: “Every difficult decision I have had to make in my life, I find that I always fall back to Duty, Honor, Country, and that points me in the direction I want to go in.”
Daniels told Newsmax that, by the grace of God, America has a lot of people of Schwarzkopf’s quality, and it’s more important than ever for young Americans to know them and embrace them.
“There are no perfect people, but there are many ordinary people in America doing extraordinary things for the sake of others and our country,” Daniels said. “Too often, the media is a source of negative examples. GreatAmericans.com is an effort to use the power of the media, especially the Internet, to introduce our society and our young people to better examples.”
Enter Audie Leon Murphy, once a household word but now, not so well known to the new generations.
His entry on the Web site informs viewers that this son of poor Texas sharecroppers rose to national fame as the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II. Among his 33 awards and decorations was the Medal of Honor, the highest military award for bravery the United States gives to any individual, for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Murphy also received every decoration for valor that his country has to offer, some of them more than once, and five decorations from France and Belgium. Credited with killing more than 240 of the enemy while wounding and capturing many others, he became a legend within the bloodied 3rd Infantry Division.
Beginning his service as an Army private, Murphy rose quickly to the enlisted rank of staff sergeant, was given a battle field commission as second lieutenant, was wounded three times, and fought in nine major campaigns across the European Theater.
Upon returning home, he went to Hollywood at the invitation of actor James Cagney. After enduring the frustrations of a slow start in the film industry, he starred in 26 films, including 23 Westerns. His autobiography, “To Hell And Back,” in 1949 became a best seller, as well as a movie in which he starred as himself.
Murphy, who later was plagued with post-traumatic stress disorder, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, just one of many heroes interred in the hallowed venue that is the epicenter of our remembrances on Veterans Day.
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