Navy SEAL Mike Monsoor and his two teammates climbed to rooftop positions during a firefight in Ramadi, a Sunni insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad. Suddenly, an insurgent grenade bounced off Monsoor's chest. It landed on the roof.
Monsoor looked at it. He had two choices: escape and live yet watch his two comrades die or die in their place. I'll let President Bush's speech reveal what happened as he quoted one of the survivors:
"'Mikey looked death in the face that day and said, 'You cannot take my brothers. I will go in there instead.' In that terrible moment, he had two options-to save himself, or to save his friends. For Mike, this was no choice at all. He threw himself onto the grenade and absorbed the blast with his body."
He chose to stay. They lived. He died. He died for his comrades, but -ultimately- he died for his country.
Countless men and women like Mike Monsoor have willingly given their very lives for us. Over 1,343,812 brave Americans have died in military service. There have been over 1,145,523 wounded and 38,159 MIAs. Clearly, freedom is not free - it has a high price.
But, the men and women who willingly served their country knew very well that they may not return home yet they still boldly served.
Throughout American history, the U.S. military has ensured and protected freedom. In our own country, a strong defense has kept our country the land for the free for over 200 years.
This year, Memorial Day is May 28 and it is a good time to honor the memory of those who have given their lives to keep us free. It is also a time to thank our veterans and current servicemen and women for their hard work and tireless efforts to protect freedom. Our heroes know that freedom is worth it. They've seen tyranny and the consequential pain and disparity and that further emboldens them to fight for freedom. One such hero was Glenn "Mac" McDole:
In 1940, McDole enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. On August 12, 1942, he bravely entered the Palawan prison camp in the Philippines.
Two long years later on December 14, 1944, Japanese soldiers slaughtered about 93% of American POWs. The Japanese lied. They announced false air raids to move prisoners into underground shelters. Then, they mercilessly poured gasoline on top of them and used dynamite and machineguns to murder the POWs. Our brave soldiers were slain by evil, blood-thirsty hands. They died a hellish death for our freedom. Yet McDole escaped.
Amazingly, Glenn McDole was one of eleven young men who escaped. He was the last man out of the Palawan Prison Camp 10A. McDole and the ten other survivors dug into refuse piles, hid in coral caves, and slogged through jungle and swamps to safety. The horrifying conditions suffered by McDole and his comrades were endured for America's freedom - our freedom.
During World War II, Japan captured thousands of American soldiers like McDole as prisoners of war (POWs). They were held captive in camps from Burma to the Philippines. The Japanese treated all captives with the same distain: starvation, disease, beatings, torture, and even execution.
McDole was one of eleven survivors of Palawan Prison Camp 10A (located on a remote Pacific island) and he lived in our home state: Iowa.
Clearly, POWs such as Glenn McDole strongly value freedom. They know from experience what it was like to live in bondage. They know firsthand what it is like not to be free.
As proud Americans (and Iowans) we're proud of Col. George "Bud" Day, a native from Sioux City, Iowa. He is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and Command Pilot who served during the Vietnam War. His years of service include five years and seven months as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. He is the most decorated U.S. service member since General Douglas MacArthur. Col. Day has received some seventy decorations, a majority for actions in combat. In addition, Col. Day is a recipient of the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross.
Yes, Col. Day is a remarkable man and one of America's greatest heroes. We've had the great honor of meeting him - an experience we will always treasure. Col. Day deeply loves his country and freedom. He solidly believes in the U.S.
Constitution and freedom. But, Col. Day would be first to tell you that complete freedom comes from knowing Jesus Christ Who set us free from sin and death. (Click here to learn how to be set free.)
We live in the land of the free because of the brave. God bless our veterans and our servicemen and women!