- Written by The American TFP
- As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the destruction of the Dong Ha Bridge, our thoughts naturally turn to Colonel
- John Ripley, the man at the center of the story.
- Spring Grove, PA(March 2012) — To most of the world April 2, 2012, will be just another early spring day. To members of the armed forces, veterans, their families, military historians, and other patriotic Americans, the date will evoke images of unfathomable courage: an exhausted Marine captain crawling through razor wire and hand-walking beneath a bridge in Vietnam, rounds from enemy fire blazing all around him, sustained through the ordeal by his sense of duty, his love of country, and his utter reliance on a Higher Power.
- The 40th anniversary of the destruction of the Dong Ha Bridge — which delayed the North Vietnamese Army from taking Saigon for another three years — is a key historical milestone. Yet Norman J. Fulkerson hopes that Americans will commemorate this day by taking a moment to reflect on the example set by the man at the center of this case study in heroism. Not just during the operation itself but throughout his life, Colonel John Walter Ripley displayed a rare and priceless quality: moral courage.“While very few of us could come close to achieving the raw physical courage he possessed, we can emulate Colonel Ripley’s moral courage,” says Fulkerson, author of An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC (The American TFP, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-877905-41-4, $14.95).
- “Our world is crying out for it. In times like these — marked by cultural decay, the unraveling of the principles that made our nation great, and widespread hopelessness and despair — we need men of moral courage more than ever.”
- Fulkerson’s tribute to Colonel Ripley certainly appeals to military circles. (Indeed, the book was the Military Writers Society of America 2010 Gold Medal Winner.) Yet he hopes that its message will resonate with civilians who see much to be admired and valued in the story of a man who truly lived his values. It not only provides a gripping description of the Dong Ha Bridge operation (click here for an excerpt from the book), it paints a portrait of a man who truly personifies modern-day American knighthood.How did Ripley’s moral courage manifest itself in his life? Fulkerson offers the following insights:
- Read more, click here.
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The statement below will be published by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) in the Ledger-Enquirer Newspaper this weekend and distributed in the city of Fort Benning, Georgia by TFP Members.
For over twenty years, pacifist protesters have gathered at Fort Benning in mid-November to oppose the activities of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly called the School of the Americas) and demand its closure.
The protesters are even invited to break the law and trespass upon the military base as a symbolic act.
The annual event is organized by the School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch). This year, the organization has admitted that they will be attracting a dwindling mix of protesters since many activists are “busy” in the Occupy Wall Street movement nationwide. These socialist advocates surprisingly claim to represent “99%” of the American people.
In fact, this year’s march is also being called Occupy Fort Benning. Like their comrades in the Occupy Wall Street movement, the activists say they speak in the name of the “99%.” We ask: Who do they really represent?
They do not represent the American people
The American soldier represents 100% of Americans, not “the 99%” or “the 1%.” The American soldier does not use idle
words, illegal actions, and Marxist jargon to do so. Rather, he defends the nation with his service, sacrifice and even his life. He represents the best of America and we should honor and be proud of our brave military heroes.
Not only does the American soldier wish to defend our nation, but he also extends an invitation to those in other countries, to learn from his experiences, and come to Fort Benning to better defend their countries against brutal Marxist movements.
To insinuate that a three or six-month course (where the curriculum is no secret) can turn South American soldiers into assassins is an insult to all these brave soldiers and their instructors. The whole school cannot be judged by deplorable acts of some of its graduates. It would be the equivalent of saying the Occupy Wall Street movement turns all its squatting occupants into criminals because of the increasing number of criminal opportunists who are appearing at “occupy” sites nationwide and committing crimes and sexual assaults that have led to a number of arrests.
By defending the whole nation, the American soldier represents 100% of all Americans. By dividing the nation, Occupy Fort Benning seeks to represent only those Americans sympathetic to its radical view.
Thus we must ask: Who do they really represent?
Looking at all the groups that usually attend the protest, we see scattered fringes of the religious, political and cultural left. The event is used as a platform to push ideas that range from communism to socialism, drug legalization to abortion, homosexual vice to women’s ordination, Liberation Theology to anarchy. Realistically, even the most optimistic observer is forced to admit that such views represent at best only 0.99% of Americans rather than 99%.
They do not represent the Church
Although participants may appear in habits and collars, it would be wrong to conclude that these protesters represent the authentic position of the Catholic Church. The strident socialist tone of the arguments presented by the protesters remind us of the words of Pope Pius XI who warned, “No one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”
The praising of Marxist guerrillas and despots like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro who promoted violent revolution in Latin America obviously does not represent Church teaching. Indeed, while the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation opens its doors to all democratically elected governments in the hemisphere, the protesters have the dubious distinction of favoring the oldest communist dictatorship in Latin America – the Castro dictatorship which has held sway for over fifty years and persecuted the Church.
The idea that protesters somehow represent Church teaching is refuted by the excommunication of Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois who has led the gathering for over two decades. His public support of women’s ordination and persistent dissent has set him at loggerheads with both the Vatican and his religious order.
Indeed, the Fathers and great saints of the Church consistently defend the mission of the soldier to establish order through just war. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, for example, that the military profession must have as its goal the defense of the public good, the poor and oppressed. Soldiers are therefore guardians of legitimate authority.
Yet again, in his role of upholding the Church’s teaching on just war, the soldier represents the full 100% while the Occupy Fort Benning activists represent at best a dissenting 0.99 % element that does not reflect the teachings of the Fathers of the Church.
A Call to Gratitude
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) calls upon the public to thank our heroes. Let us thank them for defending the 100%.
Indeed, we need to thank – not protest – these heroes who put their lives on the line – and represent us all. These heroes guarantee the peace. We live freely because they made the greatest of sacrifices – even that of life itself.
We cannot agree with those who protest against the soldier and see his role as one buttressing “structures of oppression and power.” We do not agree with those who unfairly label those who fight against Marxism as murderers and assassins. We cannot turn a blind eye to a ruthless enemy who breaks all rules and conventions as Marxists have always done.
While we censure any abuses, of course, we will not stand silent while systemic and widespread abuses come from Castro’s Cuba, the FARC guerillas and other leftist movements that still cling to the outdated and iniquitous Marxist ideologies that so ravaged Latin America.
As Americans, let us be proud of these heroes who represent us all as they continue to fight and train others to defend their nations against those who threaten the peace.
May God protect them and their families in their daily battles around the world.
For nearly twenty years, a crowd has gathered at Fort Benning in mid-November to protest against the activities of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly called the School of the Americas) and demand its closure.
The annual event is more than just a protest. It is a gathering of the scattered fringes of the religious, political and cultural left who use the event as a platform to push ideas that range from drug legalization to abortion or even women’s ordination. Leftist Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois leads this gathering which includes a large collection of socialists, liberation theology advocates and anarchists. It is no surprise that the 71-year-old priest automatically incurred excommunication for openly opposing Church doctrine.
For nearly twenty years, both he and his protesters have resisted the Army’s efforts to “dialogue.” They reject outright the Army’s unconditional offers to open its doors to any who wish to review the school’s operation.
Nearly twenty years of protest calls to mind another twenty-year milestone – the fall of the Berlin Wall. In light of this commemoration, we offer some considerations.
A Continued Danger
On the twentieth anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, we might be tempted to think that the world’s great military dangers have passed. However, that is not the case. We still live in a world of violence and uncertainties. Our enemies are no longer concentrated behind an Iron Curtain but are scattered about the world in the form of radical groups and rogue nations all too willing to threaten the peace.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, one would hope that at least the outdated Marxist ideas that caused so much misery all over the world would be consigned to the dustbin of history. However, that is not the case. Guerrilla groups in Latin America like Colombia’s FARC still defend their outdated Marxist ideas through violence and bloodshed. There is still Stalinist North Korea, poverty-stricken Cuba and Communist China oppressing its people and trampling on human natural rights. There is Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela exporting his Bolivarian socialist revolution across Latin America – including the building of a nuclear program.
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it would be hoped that the terrors of our age might also fall. However, that is not the case. Terror or the threat of terror lives as the tactic of choice among Islamic radicals who can be found in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan or Palestine. Iran’s mullahs stand ready to develop nuclear arms. Suicide bombers strike terror into whole nations and put fear into the hearts of thousands who might become the next innocent victims.
Pacifists Do Not Keep the Peace
Now more than ever, we need the soldier to keep the peace.
We note, however, that it was not the pacifists that brought down the Berlin Wall. Theirs was a constant message of concession, “dialogue,” and defeat.
When the terrible wall came crashing down, these Marxists were nowhere to be found to condemn the massive misery that lay exposed in those communist countries. They did not renounce their adherence to this system which they fought so hard to impose upon the West.
We tend to forget that it was the soldier that helped bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall. The soldier took upon himself the thankless task of confronting evil by force of arms. It was the soldier that risked all to do his duty wherever he was called to go without hesitation or complaint. The American soldier and his counterparts all over the world stood down the Communist threat in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
His services are no less needed in our days.
Thank the Heroes
Thus, we need to thank – not protest – these heroes who put their lives on the line. These heroes guarantee the peace. We live freely because they made the greatest of sacrifices – even that of life.
We remember Medal of Honor heroes like Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty when he threw himself upon a fragmentation grenade and saved four soldiers from certain serious injury or death in Iraq in December of 2006. We remember Navy Seal Michael Monsoor, who likewise unselfishly gave his life, in order to save his fellow Seals on September 29, 2006.
We can also remember heroes like the late Col. John W. Ripley whose heroism in Vietnam was legendary. These and so many more make up those legions of heroes that deserve not our scorn but our gratitude.
Where Will They Turn?
There are those who protest against the soldier. They see his role as one buttressing structures of oppression and power. They are ready to label those who still fight against Marxism as murderers and assassins. They turn a blind eye to a ruthless enemy who breaks all rules and conventions as Marxists have always done. They would deny defenseless populations the training and tools needed to defend themselves against this enemy.
In the case of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, they ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of its graduates have committed no crime save that of wanting to keep their country safe and free. They are prepared to amplify any alleged crime of a soldier to gigantic proportions while reducing to nothing the blatant abuses of Marxists in countries like Cuba, China, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
We ask those who protest: When the fury of the terrorists turns upon them, who will they appeal to? When their freedom is taken away with the same disregard as Colombia’s FARC guerrillas take the freedom of their innocent hostages, where will they turn? When their right to protest is met with bullets and tanks like that of Tiananmen Square, who will be there to defend them?
They will turn to the soldier who defends even those who calumniate him.
A Call to Gratitude
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) calls upon the public to thank the heroes.
Let us thank them for standing up to the Soviet menace that lurked behind the Berlin Wall that fell twenty years ago. Let us thank those who still fight and keep our nation safe and help other nations do likewise.
Let us, of course, censor any abuses, but let us also be consistent and condemn the systemic and widespread abuses that have come from Castro’s Cuba, the FARC guerillas and other leftist movements who still uphold the outdated and iniquitous Marxist ideologies that built the infamous Berlin Wall.
As Americans, let us be proud of our heroes as they continue to fight and train others to defend their nations against those who threaten the peace.
May God protect them and their families in their daily battles around the world.
Tags: Afghanistan, American TFP, Berlin Wall, Castro, Colonel John W. Ripley, Cuba, FARC, Fort Benning, Hugo Chavez, Islamic, Michael Monsoor, Pat Tillman, Ross A. McGinnis, School of the Americas, Stalin, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation