The Dec. 24, 2009 Christmas issue of this paper featured a front page story by Tiffany Tuell which began with the words, "A small group of Mountain Area residents braved the cold Friday evening, Dec. 18, at the corner of Highway 41 and Highway 49 for a peace vigil, sending a message to end the wars in the Middle East and bring American troops home. Their message was met by a steady stream of vehicles honking in agreement."
Tiffany quoted me as saying: "I have a cousin who is a Navy SEAL lieutenant commander. I am very much in support of him and the troops, but don't want to see them throw away their lives for an insane proposition."
Even as a little boy, he felt a certain calling. Later, as a young man, he followed his dream.
You will meet my cousin shortly on the screen of "The Met" and in an additional 3,000 theaters across the country in a major motion picture four years in the making. Other than normal military pay, all participating SEALS received no additional compensation for their involvement in what started as a training project and evolved into what has become a cinematic achievement of epic proportion.
Still on active duty, he is unidentified by name, as are brother SEALS featured in the film.
I was privileged to witness the final cut of "Act of Valor" just days ago in L.A. It made me proud to be an American.
It is the inherent nature of our species. Throughout civilized history, it was and remains only true warriors who have won and preserved extended peace for those they faithfully serve. Not kings. Not presidents. Not priests nor prophets.
The legend of Cúchulainn is one of the greatest in ancient Irish legend. He is noted in mythical sagas for his superhuman strength and amazing deeds on the battlefield. Cúchulainn was heard to proclaim before the Druids in Ulster's Hall of Heroes: "I care not whether I die tomorrow or next year, if only my deeds live after me."
My SEAL cousin includes Irish heritage on his Father's side of the family, but shares with his Mother, as do I with mine, ancestry dating back to the Mayflower, including one Thomas Newcomb, cited as a "Soldier of the Revolution," drafted into the American Army under George Washington on 23 Aug., 1777, at the age of 16.
"Act of Valor" concludes with powerful imagery -- those Stars and Stripes -- that flag fought for freedom through the years -- passing yet further onward to a new generation.
Closing credits display only the names of Navy SEALS who have willingly and unselfishly offered their lives on our behalf since 9/11 -- heroes and warriors all. The list is long.
It is to them we owe our deepest gratitude and highest praise.
It is for us to pledge their living brothers are never sent to die for less than the values we profess.
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." ~Abraham Lincoln. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Nov. 19, 1863.