America has lost one of its greatest native sons, Rear Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton, who epitomized all that is good and great in the American patriotic character as a warrior, statesman and humanitarian.
He was an extraordinary American patriot who lived his life in service to God and Country.
Adm. Denton, one of America’s greatest military heroes, died on March 28, 2014. But his example of undaunted courage in combat and in almost eight torture-filled years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, will live through the ages as a testament to what can be accomplished through love of family, love of country, and unconquerable faith in God.
It was his faith in God that Adm. Denton attested enabled him to survive the unspeakable torture he and other American POW’s endured for resisting demands of their communist captors to denounce and repudiate their country.
That the communists were in fact torturing American POW’s in violation of the Geneva Accords was first definitively exposed and confirmed by POW Jeremiah Denton in a now famous act that almost cost him his life. In May, 1966, when the communists attempted to use him for propaganda purposes through a Japanese television documentary intended to show communist benevolence to the POW’s, Denton blinked repeatedly as if the bright light bothered his eyes. In fact, he was blinking “T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse Code. After the broadcast, when the communists realized that Denton had duped them, he was tortured so horrendously that he was near death—and actually wished to die to end it.
He powerfully exposed war crime torture by the communists in the now classic book he authored, entitled: When Hell Was In Session. It is a book which ought to be read in every American schoolroom, and every American home. (A new edition, with an epilogue containing Adm. Denton’s thoughts on the current American condition, has been published by WND Books.)
It was Adm. Denton’s service in defense of American freedom in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, including during his long captivity as a POW from July 18, 1965, to Feb. 13, 1975, some four (4) years of which was in solitary confinement due to his leadership of resisting POW’s, which led him to be universally respected by his fellow POW’s, and to be hailed by former President Ronald Reagan as “a great hero.”
What Adm. Denton did as a warrior, and how he was respected as a leader by POW’s who resisted their communist torturers, is confirmed and illuminated by author Alvin Townley in his just published epic account of POW’s courage and sacrifice: “DEFIANT: The POWs Who Endured Vietnam’s Most Infamous Prison, The Women Who Fought For Them, And The One Who Never Returned.
When finally released on Feb. 13, 1975, Denton was chosen to speak for his fellow POW’s when they stepped off the plane at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. The heartfelt simplicity of Denton’s words are a reflection of his modesty, his essential goodness, his soul: “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our county under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander in chief and to our nation for this day,” Denton said, then added with emotion: “God bless America.”
Under difficult circumstances? Never has there been a greater understatement. To begin to appreciate how excruciatingly “difficult” the circumstances of our POW’s were under the communists, read Denton’s “When Hell Was In Session,” first published in 1975; or Alvin Townley’s “DEFIANT,” published in 2014, confirming Denton’s account and detailing just how “difficult,” how horrendous, were those “difficult circumstances,” for American POW’s, and for their families back home.
Those families, including Denton’s beloved wife Jane, (who predeceased him several years ago) and their seven children, did not know for years even if their loved ones were alive or dead. The so-called “Best And Brightest” Ivy League liberals of Lyndon Johnson’s Democrat regime urged them not to protest against treatment of the POW’s so as not to provoke the communists to even more atrocities. Meanwhile, the media ignored the issue of the treatment of the POW’s and printed and broadcast endless reports of Jane Fonda, John Kerry, and other progressive liberals praising the communists and denouncing the U.S. and American warriors as “war criminals.” (Alvin Townley in “DEFIANT” tells the story of the rebellion of the wives and families against the “gag order” and their creation of a successful campaign to awaken the world to the torture of American Pow’s.)
Jeremiah Denton contends that it was love of family, country, and most importantly, his faith in God that saved his life, and sanity, as a POW. While he was an heroic American warrior, he was, after his release and return to freedom, also a statesman of vision. He was the first Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate from the State of Alabama. He was a humanitarian to the end of his days through his Admiral Denton Legacy Initiatives (formerly, the Admiral Jeremiah Denton Foundation) whose good works will continue even with his passing. (See, www.AdmiralDenton.org,).
These aspects of Adm. Denton’s life as an exemplary warrior, statesman, and humanitarian are reported in more detail in a very moving personal tribute to Adm. Denton by Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND.com, and in WND’s detailed obituary byArt Moore. (See [Farah] (http://www.wnd.com/2014/03/jeremiah-denton-my-friend-my-hero/) and [Moore] http://www.wnd.com/2014/03/war-hero-former-sen-jeremiah-denton-dies-at-89/)
I consider it one of the blessings of my life to have had the honor to have been able to work with Adm. Denton, in a small way, considering the multitude of good works in which he was involved. But it had a very large impact on me. Jeremiah Denton was not only a great man, but a good one, and history has shown that it is more rare than common that great men are also good men.
In 2006, I had the honor of working with Adm. Denton and another great and good man, Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady, USA (ret.), Medal of Honor (Vietnam). I was the “go-between” in the drafting and crafting of what went to Congress as the Joint Statement Of Rear Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton (USN, ret.) and Maj. Gen. Patrick H. Brady (USA, ret), In Support Of Passage Of The Veterans Memorials, Boy Scouts, Public Seals And Other Public Expressions Of Religion Act (“PERA”).
PERA was sponsored by former-Congressman John Hostettler of Indiana (8th Dis.), and The American Legion as citizen sponsor. PERA would rescind the authority of judges to award taxpayer-paid attorney fees to the ACLU, or anyone else, in Establishment of Religion Clause litigation attacks on public expression of religion or symbols with a religious aspect, most often the Cross. That would allow defendant public bodies not to surrender to the ACLU’s secular-cleansing demands to destroy Crosses or ban the Ten Commandments or other public expressions of religion for fear of precious taxpayer funds being diverted to pay ACLU fees, often in the hundreds of thousands of dollars by which ACLU profits at tax-payer expense
The American Legion hand-delivered the Joint Statement of Adm. Denton and Gen. Brady to every member of the House and Senate the day before the House vote. To the shock of many, PERA passed the House overwhelmingly. Many credited Adm. Denton and Gen. Brady for persuading Representatives to vote for the PERA Bill. Unfortunately, however, Arlen Specter, then-Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman (later Democrat candidate for the Senate), blocked PERA from being voted on before the November 2006 elections. The Democrats took control of Congress and have refused since then to bring PERA up for a hearing or vote.
After that work in 2006, I had the opportunity to work with Adm. Denton, who was also chair of the advisory board of The Thomas More Law Center [www.thomasmore.org]. These efforts included the fight against the ACLU to save the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross (ACLU surrendered in 2012 after ten years of litigation) and to save the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Cross (now in the 24th year of litigation by the secular extremists of the ACLU).
What I am most thankful for is having been able to initiate and participate in the establishment by The American Legion Department of California, and Thomas More Law Center, of a plaque in honor of Adm. Denton at the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial on National POW/MIA Day 2008.
This granite plaque erected by his comrade wartime veterans of The American Legion to honor Rear Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton, Jr., shall stand for generations, beneath the Cross honoring veterans at Mt. Soledad, allowing future Americans to learn of his exemplary life lived in service to God and Country, a life to be emulated if we are to remainfree, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
“The Four Chaplains proved their faith with ultimate sacrifice – not in a flash of combatant action – but with peaceful discernment, humble devotion and extraordinary valor. They lived this life knowing God’s real presence and eternal promise. Blessed with men of this caliber, our nation must do the same.”
I first read Adm. Denton’s “When Hell Was In Session” back in 1997. The horrors of the torture he endured, how he fought back despite those horrible tortures, often wishing for death to end the pain, and how, somehow, he remained human through it all, was and is awe inspiring. But, what struck me most of all was the love this man expressed for our country, and for us, in the gentle words of the dedication of his book. From that day to this, those words of Jeremiah A. Denton have been taped to my desk, as they say so much about who and what Jeremiah Denton was, heroic yet humble, great yet good, a warrior, statesman, and humanitarian, who, after enduring as a POW the worst inhumanity of which humans are capable, would dedicate his book in these words:
“To those who strive make this one nation under God, who are willing to protect her,who thank God for such great beauty as she has developed and who patiently tolerate her imperfections.”
Those words of Jeremiah A. Denton, from his heart, touched mine. He was, indeed, a great man who is also good man. I thank God for him, and for the opportunity to have known him.
May the God Jeremiah A. Denton, warrior, statesman, and humanitarian, so faithfully served in war and in peace, bless and keep him; and may the nation he so faithfully served, and whose freedom he preserved, never forget him.
(Rees Lloyd is a longtime California civil rights attorney, a veterans activist, and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)
Another note from Rees on his two posts today:
Those photos of Adm. Denton when he was being tortured move me even more now that he has left us. Hard to look at them without tearing up. What this great man endured for our country, for us, is beyond words.What an example is his life for this and future generations of Americans
Similarly, I am moved by the photos of Cesar, who also lived a life which is an example of selfless service for others that should be emulated by this and future generations.
When I look at the photos you included, I remember that in all those years I was with him, he never ordered, directed, or asked me to do anything. He would just say, “We need…..” Then he would just stare at me at me with those Zapata Indian eyes, until it would dawn on me that “We need” really meant “I want you to do.” With that dawning I knew I was trapped into “volunteering” to do whatever needed doing. He was always explicit, however, once I had “volunteered” to undertake some litigation: “Go get’em and take no prisoners.”
You get a hint of the power of those Zapata eyes in one of the photos you used. He never asked anyone to do anything, to take any risk, nor make any sacrifice, that he was not willing to do, risk, or sacrifice. And there was power in those eyes when they changed from light-hearted laughter to seriousness, or even melancholy. Then, when the eyes sent a message of sadness, or disappointment, then there was no fight you wouldn’t make for him, no task you wouldn’t attempt to fulfill, to take away whatever was the disappointment, the pain, he was feeling. He had about him the ability to create an atmosphere in which we were better humans than we thought we were or could be, and he did it not by demands, commands, or exhortations, but by the example of his life.
The photo of Cesar as a young sailor, with a happy-go-lucky young sailor’s smile on his face, I doubt many people have ever seen. Certainly the progressive liberals who want to hi-jack him as one of them have attempted to ignore his military service and status as a veteran who joined the Navy in WWII to defend America just as they have have attempted to downplay the reality that he was living his Catholic faith in doing what he did, following the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Bible, not Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto.
As for the photo you attach (above) of Cesar and me when we held a press conference in Tucson to announce the alliance between the UFW and the Truckers For Justice (TFJ) during our strike, I see myself back then and I think of a line by Clint Eastwood when he was asked if he watched his old movies, and,if so, what did he think of them. Eastwood answered that he occasionally watched an old film, “But the problem is, then you remember how you used to look.”
In closing, I think it is important to remember something else about Cesar: While enormous propaganda efforts have been made to defame him as a “communist” (a lie), it should be noted that in all these years there have been no belated allegations of any financial or sexual infidelity or impropriety by Cesar Chavez, although the opportunities for both were omnipresent.
There is a good reason there have been no such allegations: There were no financial or sexual infidelities or improprieties by Cesar. If there had been, the growers would have been beating the drum about them for years to discredit him.
So, I thank you again, Victoria, for what you have done in publishing these tributes to Adm. Denton and Cesar Chavez, including enhancing them with your editorial and layout skills, and for all you have done and do for God and Country.
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