In 480 BC, the Persians, under the command of Xerxes, invaded the Hellespont, and sought to avenge his father, and conquer Greece. Xerxes was met by 300 Spartans — King Leonidas’ personal guard — along with Greeks from several other city states. It was there in a far-away place called Thermopylae, “the hot gates,” that Liberty stood before Tyranny.
When the Persians demanded, at the outset, that Leonidas lay down his weapons, he responded with those famed two words, “Molon Labe” — come, take. However, after three brutal days of fighting it was a Greek traitor who led the Persians to a mountain pass that came in behind the Spartan position in the narrow gap of Thermopylae.
As Leonidas learned of the impending Persian encirclement, he chose one Spartan warrior to take a message back to Sparta: “Go tell the Spartans, and strangers passing by that here, obedient to their laws, we lie.” That law was the Law of Lycurgus which was a strict social order, and military code, a code that shunned retreat and surrender. It was said that a Spartan mother would present her son his shield with the command to return bearing the shield or be borne upon it.
Last night, I was asked a question from a gentleman in the audience: is America past the point of no return? Click To Tweet
Last night, at the Town Hall event held in Tombstone, in the historic Schieffelin Hall, I was asked a question from a gentleman in the audience: is America past the point of no return? This man was concerned that the socialist movement in America, along with the calls for incitement, threats, intimidation, and violence due to a breakdown in intellectual ideological discourse, is spelling the end of our Republic. I told him no, the reason being was something I had witnessed earlier in the day.
Yesterday, along with Medal of Honor recipients Drew Dix, and Melvin Morris, I visited, for the first time, the US Army’s Fort Huachuca. I had the chance to stand on the hallowed grounds that were the home of the Buffalo Soldiers, the men of the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments, along with the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. It was there that the Black combat divisions of World War II were trained. It was there that men like the third black graduate of West Point, Charles Young, who would go on to become a full Colonel, would set the conditions for a fella like me to be a combat commander in our Army. I felt at home there knowing that this was part of my lineage, my legacy, of being an officer in the US Army, a combat soldier, an American. I felt a sense of pride knowing that once, men who were not afforded all the rights and privileges of this great Nation didn’t complain, surrender, or retreat, but took the high ground to defend this nation.
But, more than anything, I saw what I miss the most, being retired: soldiers. We got the chance to sit and have lunch with selected soldiers who were completing their Advanced Individual Training (AIT) as Military Intelligence troops. And, when I think about the greatness of America, I will remember these young men and women.
One soldier was a young lawyer from New York, who had enough, and wanted to find a greater sense of service, so he joined the Army. Will he go on to be an Army JAG officer? Perhaps. But right now, he’s just glad to be completing his training as an Army intelligence soldier.
There was the young soldier from Hawaii, who was in the National Guard. She already had her undergraduate degree in Business, and was looking forward to going before the sergeants’ board and getting promoted. However, as we talked, she became more interested in becoming an officer, and asked me about being a leader, and how to overcome instances of self-doubt. You could see the strength of character within her, and the pride when she told me that her family was coming for her graduation. She was the first soldier in her family.
There was the young Soldier who proudly came up to me, and said he was once a constituent. He was from West Palm Beach, FL, and attended Palm Beach Lakes High School. He had a special gleam in his eyes when he told me that he was heading to Ft. Sill, OK. I told him that was my first duty station as a young Lieutenant.
Then, there was the young soldier from Morrow, GA, just south of Atlanta, who, when I told him that I was from Atlanta, and attended Henry Grady HS, he shyly said, “we are homeboys, Sir.”
During the day, we were driven in the Army van by a young soldier from Seattle, who was going back to Ft. Lewis to be an intelligence analyst with the 1st Special Forces Group, and proudly told Major Dix, and MSG Morris, both Green Berets, that he was looking forward to his “Q Course” training.
No, I do not believe that America has past a point of no return, because we are still producing young men and women of such exceptional character, soldiers. This scene is being repeated all across America by young Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. The message I deliver is simple, “Go tell the Americans, and strangers passing by, that we still make men and women obedient to the principles for which some have died.”
America is not about Maxine Waters, or those who castigate our US Border Patrol, and ICE agents as Nazis or terrorists. At the Town Hall meeting I met a young Border Patrol agent who thanked me for standing up, and speaking for them. Yet, I am the one who is thankful that we are still in the business of making men and women who will safeguard and protect the sovereignty of our Constitutional Republic.
See, just like Leonidas, and the brave Spartans, we, too, must face tyranny in order to preserve liberty. We must not retreat, or surrender. We must display courage, commitment, and resolve. We remember the stand of Leonidas because we, here in America, have a history of ordinary men, and women, making stands, going above and beyond.
For me, America will have gone past a point of no return when we walk onto our military installations, and there are no Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen sitting in the chow hall (I am old school and refuse to say dining facility). These are the next generation of warriors who are stepping in to take their position on Freedom’s rampart. It’s a long line of 243 years of service, sacrifice, and commitment that I know will never be broken.
Go tell the Americas, all of them, that our nation is strong. That progressive socialism will not prevail, because, simply, we remain the Land of the Free, because we are still producing the Brave.
During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
He is a Fox News Contributor, Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom. His forthcoming book, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, is due fall 2018 from Brown Books Publishing Group.