Monday, November 11, 2013

Honoring Those Who Have Honored Freedom

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Wikipedia says: "Veterans Day is an official United States holiday which honors people who have served in armed service also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.)"

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said:

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

Congress amended this act several times and on June 1, 1954, they replaced "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since.

On this day of honor, I would like to take a look at the profiles of 2 different kinds of patriots---one from the Revolutionary War and one who passed away a few days ago in Bremerton, WA. who served in WW II.

Both the New York Times and local Seattle KIRO Radio has honored this local patriot.

The New York Times is honoring the Seattle area man who served in an extraordinary way in WW II.

When he was told he would be receiving a Metal of Honor for his service, the NYT reports his response:

“I am a common man who did the best I could in the time and place I found myself,” he told The Chicago Tribune at a gathering of Medal of Honor recipients in Chicago in 1990.

“I was home on R and R and had been wounded four different times when I got a phone call saying they were considering me for the Medal of Honor. I said, ‘Medal of Honor? For when? For what day? What place? What time? Are you sure you mean me?’ You see, none of us consider ourselves heroes.”

Chris Sullivan with KIRO Radio filed this report last week about the man who made a difference for his country.

If you live in the Seattle area, you may have heard of John "Bud" Hawk. If you live in the Port Orchard-Bremerton area, you may have known him.

His story is a story of courage, service and humility.

Here's the story Sullivan filed:

Local WWII Medal of Honor recipient, John 'Bud' Hawk, dies at age 89


America has lost one of its true heroes. World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient John "Bud" Hawk died Monday in Bremerton.

Hawk was also a longtime school teacher and principal in Bremerton.

Hawk never glorified his heroic actions in the French countryside in August of 1944, but he spoke of them often, using his experiences to help teach and guide generations of school children in Bremerton. "The worst thing that can happen to a human being is to have to take the life of another human being," Hawk said in a Medal of Honor video. "You will never, ever, forget it."

Sergeant Hawk and his squad of tank killers were defending the Falaise Pocket, preventing the German retreat out of France, when he found himself chasing German tanks through an apple orchard.

"I didn't see the one tank so he shot me through the apple tree," Hawk said. "To me, it was like getting hit with a sledgehammer. I couldn't tell if I had a broken leg or no leg or what. It knocked me flat. I'm either done or I can run like hell and boy I took off out of there like you wouldn't believe."

The 20-year-old Hawk came across a lone U.S. soldier manning a bazooka as he ran, and despite his leg injury, he helped load and site the weapon and engaged the enemy.

He then ordered his squad to use pieces of their broken weapons to build a functioning gun.

Then Hawk did the unthinkable: Since the U.S. tanks were having trouble targeting the German tanks, he ran into the middle of the battlefield to serve as an aiming post for American gunners. "You're not thinking, really, of the consequences," he said. "You're trying to think of a solution. If you were standing in the middle, you could see both ways. I said, 'If I line you up will you shoot and then we'll correct.'"

Firing over Sergeant Hawk's head, the U.S. took out several German tanks and eventually forced the surrender of 500 German soldiers.

He refused to leave his unit for the hospital, choosing instead to get fixed up in the field, and continue his march into Germany. He was injured in the Battle of the Bulge before returning home.

Not wanting to take the long train trip to Washington, D.C. to receive the Medal of Honor, President Truman came to Hawk, putting the medal around his neck in a ceremony in Olympia.

Hawk went on to have a long teaching career in Bremerton. A training center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and a Post Office on Bainbridge Island are named after him.

The one message he would always tell people when asked of his service was a simple one. "Two words I'm not fond of," Hawk said. "Hero, and the other one is winner. There are no winners in a war."

But there are winners in life, and John "Bud" Hawk was one.

Brian Kilmeade co-hosts Fox News Channel's morning show, "Fox and Friends," and hosts a nationally syndicated radio show.

He has written a newly released book titled, "George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution."

Washington called these patriots the "Culper Spy Ring." Kilmeade has tapped some previously unpublished research from the Revolutionary War, and in his book, shows how people have served in extraordinary ways since our founding.

When Washington made his hasty retreat from New York City in August, 1776, many believed the American Revolution was over. Realizing he could never beat the British military with might alone, Washington instead turned to a network of spies to outmaneuver his enemies.

The names of this group of six patriots who risk their lives for our freedom were so carefully guarded that none of their names were uncovered until the 20th Century. And the name of one remains unknown to this day.

This group was able to keep Benedict Arnold from giving away West Point, they stopped a counterfeit ring that was going to cause Washington's new country to have money that had no value, so our Revolutionary Army would be forced to leave their service.

I'll be talking more about this group on the radio this morning. Please join me live at 9 AM PST. Here's how to listen from anywhere in the world.

The common thread we see in the life of Bud Hawk and this group of 6, is a deep love of freedom and a love of their country and the values it has stood for.

That thread is that they didn't seek recognition for what they'd done for America and for freedom. Millions of others have also given themselves for this great cause called America and the cause of freedom, and have shared that humility.

May God bless those who have served and the families of those who have given their loved ones for the cause of freedom.

Be Vigilant. Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Pro-Active. Be Blessed.

Today we, as a nation, honor them.

May God help us to hold to those Judeo-Christian values upon which this nation was founded---and for which so many have fought and died to preserve.