Understanding What It Means to Be an American Hero
Two new books -- a novel by Oliver North, Heroes Proved, and a memoir by Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, Living With Honor, delve into what it means to be a hero. These former soldiers want people to understand that their fellow sisters and brothers have fought to defend the U.S. so Americans can sleep peacefully at night. After interviewing them, what comes to mind is the lyrics from the Toby Keith song, "American Soldier": "Beside my brothers and sisters, I will proudly take a stand. When liberty's in jeopardy, I will always do what's right[.]"
Both authors wrote their respective books to emphasize that Americans still need and still have heroes. Colonel North told American Thinker, "These heroes are real-life, like Sal, not the ones who wear spandex capes. They put themselves at risk for the benefit of others. Sal is a living example of the sacrifice and commitment that is required."
North explained that he wrote a fictional book because his heroes were former Special Forces, and he did not want to put "faces on them because that would increase the risk to them. I did not want to describe them, identify them, and identify their tactics, techniques, weapons, or operations. In a novel I am able to change the names, places, and dates of those I have covered for Fox News. This way I could still give them credit and accolades as well as show that they are a part of an extraordinary group of Americans."
Heroes Proved has the reader visualizing what will happen in twenty years given the parameters of today. It can be described as a doomsday scenario, showing how the left were allowed to implement their policies: there are devices like the PERT, PID, and MESH, which give a detailed account of what a person is doing and his or her location. This can be compared to the talks happening today at the U.N. International Telecommunications Union, where there is a legitimate fear of the U.N. gaining centralized control of the internet. The book also has the world determining when to fight, which can be compared to the U.N.'s plan for having international drone surveillance. This past June, there was the U.N. Small Arms Treaty, which becomes law in North's book and declares that all American citizens are forbidden from carrying or using firearms overseas. North also delves into foreign affairs by having the U.S. abandon Israel, which is taken over by the Caliphate of Islamists, and Mexico becoming a failed state controlled by a federation of drug cartels.
North commented, "All of that is true -- isn't that where we are today? The book is written twenty years from now. It is simply a wake-up call to have people think about where this is all taking us. Consider: do we want what is happening for America, or should we be in charge to form our own destiny? We do not lack courage or skill on the battlefield. The failure will be in the same place, in the corridors of Washington. We need a commander-in-chief that is not going to bow down, not going to apologize for America, and understands the exceptionalism of Americans."
In North's book, he has a scenario where the lead character does not comply with the ceasefire rules and takes it upon himself to rescue a downed helicopter in Afghanistan, engaging enemy combatants. North wrote that to "show that these brave young Americans are willing to do what is necessary to protect the liberties we hold dear. People like Sal Giunta, who have put their lives on the line for their country, should inspire us."
Sal Giunta, who wrote Living With Honor, wants to inspire Americans to appreciate how soldiers are fighting as a team with one goal: to protect Americans. He commented to American Thinker that although he received the Medal of Honor and numerous pats on the back, he really felt that everything he had achieved in the military was because he was a part of a team. He used the analogy of a quarterback receiving the MVP award, but only because he had a great offensive line to protect him. Sal is hoping that the book "reminds people that it is the average American that serves in the military and fights on our behalf. I wanted to highlight my brothers and sisters that I serve with because I owe everything to them."
He does that and much more in this book by telling his story. Sal was stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Korengal Valley, known as the "Valley of Death" for its insurgent stronghold. After being ambushed by Taliban insurgents, Giunta engaged the enemy to rescue others from his unit. He vividly describes how one of his buddies, Sergeant Josh Brennan, was taken by two insurgents, who bound his "hands and feet, toting him like a hog on its way to a roast." The most powerful parts of the book are when he describes some of his buddies and what happened to them.
As with North's book, Sal's story goes into great detail about what is happening today, except his setting is in Afghanistan. In Living With Honor, Sergeant Giunta speaks honestly about the war in Afghanistan, the rules of engagement, and how he and his fellow soldiers have been affected by it. The book makes people wonder why all those soldiers died and what has been achieved. When asked by American Thinker about this, Giunta responded, "I did not come to Afghanistan to be some guy's target practice. I am not fighting for the Afghan people, but I want Americans to know that everything I have done over there is for them. There is no doubt in my mind that when we leave in 2014, that country will go back to the way it was."
Sal minces no words in his book when he talks about the Afghans having a dual identity, where during the week they would be working side by side with the American soldier, and on the weekends, they were the ones picking up the guns to either become a terrorist or supply a terrorist. He could not understand why the "powers that be" did not understand that "the man with the gun has the power." He noted, "War is ugly, war is gruesome, and should be the last resort. However, if we are going to do it, we should be getting something in return. President Karzai asks us not to blow up a building because of collateral damage. He should remember we are fighting the bad guys on his territory. We are there helping and have given American lives, so we should be allowed to do what is necessary to get the job done. They would not hesitate to take one of our buildings again, as they have proven in the past. We are not allowed to flex the military might, which is why I believe we have been in this war for eleven years. Only 1% of this country serves in the armed forces, and the rest do not know what it is actually like to fight in combat, yet they make the rules. We ask for permission for everything we do, even though we are the ones giving American lives and tax dollars. We are the best but cannot prove it."
Americans should read both of these books -- Heroes Proved and Living With Honor -- to understand what it means to be an American soldier and an American hero. As the holiday season is upon us, people should remember that these men and women who fight for our liberties cannot call in sick on Monday and must work straight through the holidays. Sergeant Giunta and Colonel North told American Thinker that they are "humbled beyond words to be able to serve the greatest country in the entire world. We are privileged to serve, and are proud to be an American soldier." Hopefully Americans will show their support for these wonderful men and women by reading their books, because they are the ones on the front lines, ensuring that Americans have their freedom.