Last month David Horowitz presented the Annie Taylor Award to Cuban human rights activist Armando Valladares and Senator Zell Miller. The awards ceremony took place as part of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture’s Restoration Weekend, Nov. 13-16. This morning FrontPage publishes Senator Miller’s speech on the occasion of the award. Unlike so many politicians, as we have noted in the past, Senator Miller is the real deal.
His speech pays stirring tribute to the heroes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries respectively, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. He invokes the memory of his father, who fought in World War I and died when Senator Miller was 17 days old. Then he concludes with this remarkable peroration:
“In my Senate office in the Dirksen Building in Washington, I have a three-by-five-foot painting of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. I had it behind my desk at the state capitol in Atlanta when I was governor. To me, that image of six men raising an American flag on Mt. Suribachi in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought is one of the worlds’ most vivid symbols of the price of freedom.
“Those flag-raisers were very, very young men. They were just boys, really, from all corners of our country. There was a coal miner’s son from Pennsylvania; a tobacco farmer’s son from Kentucky; a mill worker’s son from New England; a dairy farmer’s son from Wisconsin; one came out of the oil fields of Texas, and one was a Pima Indian at an Indian Reservation in Arizona. Three of those boys would never leave that island and would be buried in that black volcanic ash; one would leave on a stretcher; and two would come home to live miserable lives of drunkenness and despair.
“As one looks at this image of courage and sacrifice, it is easy to miss what I consider to be one of the most important things about it. There are six boys in it, but unless you look very, very closely, you see only five. Only a single helping hand of one is visible.
“Most significantly, they are all virtually faceless. Only a somewhat vague profile of one can be seen at all. If you are like most Americans who have looked at this famous scene time and time again over the past six decades, you have missed that one important feature; one cannot really identify a single face. But isn’t that really the way it has always been with most of freedom’s soldiers — unknown and all-too-often unappreciated, faceless, nameless grunts who fight our wars to keep us free? I cannot help but marvel, where do we keep getting these young men and women? Where do they come from? It’s amazing that our country produces them when we consider how many do not have the love of this country and a willingness to die for it.
“I am fed up with those Hollywood weenies like Martin Sheen and Sean Penn who make millions of dollars playing soldier in films and then in real life give the finger to those who really wear the uniform. In the Marines, we had a name for folks like that. We called them, among other things, ‘all gurgle and no guts.’
“Someone once said that in the long course of world history, freedom has died in many ways. Freedom has died on the battlefield, freedom has died because of ignorance and greed, but the most ignoble death of all is when freedom dies in its sleep.
“As Americans, as lovers of freedom, we must not allow that to happen. We owe it to those who bore the burden and paid the price before us, and we also owe it to those who will come after us. I believe that the next five years will determine the kind of country that my four grandchildren and four great grandchildren are going to live in, and I want a commander in chief who is a stand-up kind of person. I want the kind of commander-in-chief leading this country who can make a decision and who does not suffer from paralysis analysis. I want a commander in chief that can look out at the American people and say about Iraq, ‘We’re not leaving,’ and you know he means it.
“God bless President Bush. God bless America. And thank you.”
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
“Proclaim Liberty throughout All the land unto All the Inhabitants Thereof.” Inscription on the Liberty Bell