(Newt Gingrich) – This Veterans Day, I am reminded once again of the wonderful line at the end of the movie adaptation of James Michener’s The Bridges at Toko Ri.
Today, the question is “Where do we get these men and women?” and last week, the answer was Killeen, Texas.
Killeen is the home of heroes this Veterans Day; men and women who prove that our servicemen and women don’t leave their bravery and selflessness behind on the battlefield.
Killeen was also the site of terrorism last week; proof that we are not immune from Islamic extremism inside our borders, even on our military bases. Killeen is the home of Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a Department of Defense civilian police officer and an Army veteran.
Sgt. Munley was nearby getting her car tuned-up when the 911 call came in. Without waiting for backup, she was the first law enforcement official to arrive on the scene at Fort Hood.
Much has been written about Sgt. Munley’s heroism, but few have described her behavior in the heat of a confrontation with the Fort Hood shooter better than the editorial writers at the Las Vegas Review-Sun.
“Could Sgt. Munley, hit in the wrist and both thighs, really be blamed if she’d ducked for cover? She didn’t. From all reports, she stood her ground under fire, calmly reacquiring her sight picture, putting four rounds right where she wanted, in the advancing murderer’s center of mass. She fired until he dropped. The killing ended.”
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This Veterans Day week also marks the celebration of another set of American heroes: The men and women who put their shoulders to the Berlin Wall and pushed – until it finally fell 20 years ago this Monday.
Where did we get these men and women? From all across America and everywhere freedom and human dignity are valued.
For although the revolution in Eastern Europe occurred without a shot being fired, countless Americans – not to mention Britons, Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians – sacrificed for that day.
Before there was a wall in Berlin, there was the Berlin blockade in 1948, when the Communist regime in Moscow tried to literally starve West Berlin to death. President Harry S. Truman ordered an airlift to feed West Berliners and resist Soviet aggression. Seventy-one American and British servicemen lost their lives.
And before there was a victory for freedom, 20 years ago this week, there were unflinching advocates for freedom in Eastern Europe like Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.
These are the heroes we honor today.
“Hero” is not a word we use a lot these days. We have a media dedicated to destroying, not showcasing, greatness. We have popular culture determined to celebrate victimhood rather than heroism. And we have a regime in Washington that seems more at home with international autocrats and dictators than America and its heroes.
But the inescapable fact of America is this: Ours is a country founded and defended, not by conciliation and sophisticated diplomatic gestures, but by honor, bravery and sacrifice.
Our heroes are not incidental to our nationhood but an essential part of it. Why? Because America is not, contrary to what our President believes, merely a nation among nations. We are, on our best days, closer to what Ronald Reagan believed: A shining city on a hill.
The heroes of our city on a hill stretch back from Killeen, Texas, through a bloody 20th Century and a great Civil War, all the way to our founding.
They are the men who left a trail of blood in the snow of Northern Pennsylvania on Christmas night, 1776.
They are the men and women who serve today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So make sure you take the time today to thank a veteran for his or her service. Take the time to remember and honor a hero.
Because in doing so you are answering the Navy Admiral’s question at Toko Ri.
Where do we get these men and women? From a nation that remains worthy of their sacrifice.