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Sunday, November 4, 2012

To Die Alone

 This weekend I had the opportunity to experience an air show at the Scottsdale Air Park. The show featured numerous flyovers by planes, fun carnival food and festive atmosphere that featured the joys of aeronautic prowess, rock music and the American flag.

At one point in the show, an F-18 Hornet fighter made a fast low pass over the crowd at a tilted angle and a booming loud open throttle (see film below).  As it passed over you could feel the engine vibrato in your chest as well as the swelling of pride in seeing American know-how roaring overhead. When you see this spectacle, only the most hardened of hearts would not be in awe and amazement.

You feel proud. You feel safe. You feel invulnerable. These aircraft are truly inspiring and terrifying all at once.

 Americans die for their nation and do so an in almost daily parade these days. Volunteers all, even those that work in the State Department trying to bring civilization and sanity to broken countries and oppressed peoples. These people represent the finest our country has to offer.

Unfortunately there were four men that recently died alone in the desert, huddled in a distant outpost of the city of Benghazi on the shores of a nation that most people couldn't even point out on a map. On a warm September evening, the enemies of every freedom loving individual in the world attacked and murdered these four young men at this outpost. According to most sources, we now know that they died fighting and repeatedly asking for help from the powers that be.

At sea, just a few hundred miles away, two F-18 Hornets sat on the deck of the symbol of American power and influence—an aircraft carrier-- in what is known as a Ready 400 position (on deck, fueled and ready to launch) that could be called to attack enemy forces by ground forces under attack or siege. A few more miles away a squadron more of these planes were in the ‘Ready’ position at an airfield in Italy for follow up strikes as needed.

I’m not a military man, nor an expert on these things, but many who do know about these things tell me these planes are specifically set up to attack ground troops in the event of a surprise attack—and yet they never got the go ahead as our innocent men drew fire in Benghazi that night. I will not question whether or not they would have been effective, or able to stop the attack, this is not my field of expertise. Perhaps the chain of command felt they would be inadequate or politically improper to do the task and that’s why they were given the order to stand down while our people were torn to shreds by a gang of thugs and terrorists.

Nevertheless, because the political or military risk might have been grave, that does not mean you don’t try. 

We should have at least tried.

Had those Tomcats flown over that consulate that night and roared their fiery growl across that starlit night, it is entirely possible that the terrorists might have fled. They might have delayed their attack. They might have panicked or perhaps broken their resolve. Maybe not.  It’s hard to say.

But this much is certain, our men would not have died alone. They would have looked to the skies and known that the loss of their lives would not have been in vain, that America would go on, and that American power would persevere and live, even if they did not. It is a terrible thing to die alone if you are a hero or a warrior for your nation. To die waiting for help and to know it was not coming is grotesque offense to every man and woman that wears the uniform with honor.

This is what soldiers fight for, whether they are ambassadors of peace or harbingers of death. Soldiers and statesmen fight to defend an ideal, a principle, not for a piece of cloth known as a flag, but for the ideas that it represents.  When a soldier goes into battle they know it might be their last but if they die they take comfort in knowing they do not die alone, but they die for millions of others who will eventually stand in their place.
To look up to those silent skies as the enemy closed in, begging for help that would never come is the real crime and real scandal, not the fact that they were not properly protected, nor that our President has possibly concealed the truth from the nation.

Hearing those Tomcats roar overhead as their life ebbed from them, or as the crowd dragged them off to their ultimate fate would have given them at least some sort of solace and comfort in their final moments. America would go on. You are not alone. Justice will eventually be served.

The silent skies above those men hopefully will be the final insult this nation has to bear as we march to the ballot boxes on Tuesday.

Else we pass into history at our peril.