An Extraordinary Veteran’s Day Gift

It was just a little more than a year ago when I began my pilgrimage into my yearly deep ponderance about a man I have never met yet who has been a part of my life since.. well, I am not exactly sure.. It must have been around 1972. I was just a young girl, impressionable, with older siblings. My thoughts and ideas formed from what they thought, what they did and what they cared about. It was also the beginnings of having great passion for life and the adventures that come with it. It was conflict! Beach Boys, War, marching in the streets against war and the beginning of the drug-induced hippie movement.

In 1965, my oldest brother, graduated from high school. He left for the Air Force, shortly, thereafter. At this young age, I was much too young to understand. I know I missed him.. and he was gone. His leaving left a huge hole in my heart and in all my being. I have to say I idolized him. He never came back. He would write on occasion, and visit, seldom.

Around 1972, I attended an event, of which I cannot recall. But what did happen, set me on a course for an event 40 years later. There was a group at the event, who had these metal bracelets for sale. Each one, with a name and a date. Each one a POW or MIA.. Each one unaccounted for..It was exciting! I picked a bracelet that had a date, somewhat near when my brother went in. I chose Major James O. Hivner.

  Maj James Hivner 11

I found it interesting that a man would have an “O” for a middle name.  Here is the information they gave me. Major James O.Hivner, POW, went missing on October 5, 1965 and that’s it.  I wore my POW/MIA bracelet proudly. I can recall praying for him, or maybe what seems like today.. a kind of pray~wishing for him to be alive and safe. My POW bracelet took a beating. It finally began to crack. As if it held some magical power, over the life of my POW,  I was desperate to keep it whole. My dad said there was no fixing it. Determined not to let it crack the rest of the way, I tried super glue, metal bonding glue, and last.. tape. Nothing worked and eventually, it cracked into two pieces. Well, would this be the end of the story?  Idealistic, powerless, and sure if I was not wearing it, he would be forgotten, forever..  I wrapped it up in some tissue paper and put it away, in my jewelry box for safe keeping.

  Over the years, there were occasionally lists published in the Major James Hivner 12paper of POW’s and MIA’s who became accounted for. I never saw my POW’s name on any of them.  I would pray for him, think about him.. and wonder who he was and what brought him to the horrific event of becoming a POW.  The years past by, and I would think of Major Hivner, I would pray for him and wonder if he was alive or was he ever accounted for.

With the invention of the Internet, great opportunities to search for him opened up. But, alas,  It grieved me that I could never find his name on any of the lists.  So many were recovered, so many returned home to their families. Mine remained missing.. Every few years, I would do a google search in a desperate attempt to have some closure whether good or bad for “my guy”. My first glimmer came about 5 years ago, when I saw his name on a POW/MIA list. I was so hopeful! Sadly there was no more information.

In 2014, I was sharing my teen adventures with my youngest boy who is now 17. I got my POW/MIA bracelet out and share about the whole POW/MIA experience. He had recently read the story about Zamperini and his testimony.   I seldom share what my life was like when i was a teen.. but this time, sharing about my bracelet, rekindled the burning desire to know.  One afternoon, I sat down in front of the computer and began to search.. i googled everything, i read everything, I researched every link.. I searched and researched for what seemed like days. I had a breakthrough. I found the Pow Network and I clicked all through the site. I click on the POW/MIA which took me to a multitude of resources links. My thoughts were to order a new bracelet. I clicked on a link that just said “Vietnam”. This link took me to a page of Biographies!! Encouraged, excited, full of new hope I clicked..”H”. down down down… and then.. there it was!

HIVNER, JAMES OTIS
Name: James Otis Hivner
Rank/Branch: O3/US Air Force, pilot
Unit: 43rd TFS
Date of Birth: 20 February 1931
Home City of Record: Elizabethtown PA
Date of Loss: 05 October 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 213200N 1062100E (XJ397815)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C
Incident # 0161
Missions: 35

 My heart stopped.. and then I wanted to shout for joy.. My Prisoner of War was released.. He was alive! As I continued to read his story, I am amazed at his testimony! A pilot, shot down in October of 1965 but not reported He was captured and held by the North Vietnamese. Major James O. Hivner, now a Lt. Colonel in the USAF was released on February 12, 1973. When I inquired about returning his braclet to the project, I instead received a long letter from My Soldier. I am happy to say that  Colonel James O Hivner, Retired is now my email friend. We are connected by life and circumstances. He is a warm and wonderful Christan man who has great love for his family, friends and his country. Now I thank God for the blessing of his life. never again, wondering, if he “made it”.  I have his journal from during the time of his imprisonment. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry, Silver Star for gallantry and intrepidity, The Legion of Merit medal for meritorious conduct, The Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement, The Distinguished Flying Cross Second Award for extraordinary achievement, Prison of War Medal for his time as a prisoner.  I am blessed to know this man. If you would like to read some of his story.. let me know..

It is Natural to Indulge in the Illusion of Hope…

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained — we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

A Morally Confused Marine by Dennis Prager

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A Morally Confused Marine

Last week, the Washington Post published an opinion piece by a Marine captain titled, “I killed people in Afghanistan. Was I right or wrong?”

The column by Timothy Kudo, who is now a graduate student at New York University, is a fine example of the moral confusion leftism has wrought over the last half century. Captain Kudo’s moral confusion may predate his graduate studies, but if so, it has surely been reinforced and strengthened at NYU.

The essence of Mr. Kudo’s piece is that before he served in Afghanistan he was ethically unprepared for killing, that killing is always wrong, and that war is therefore always wrong.

   “I held two seemingly contradictory beliefs: Killing is always wrong, but in war, it is necessary. How could something be both immoral and necessary?”

The statement, “killing is always wrong,” is the core of the captain’s moral confusion.

Where did he learn such nonsense? He had to learn it because it is not intuitive. Every child instinctively understands that it is right to kill in self-defense; every decent human being knows it was right to kill Nazis during World War II; and just about everyone understands that if Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had been killed early enough, about 100 million innocent lives would have been saved.

How is it possible that a Marine captain and graduate student does not know these things? How can he make a statement that is not only morally foolish, but actually immoral?

The overwhelmingly likely answer is that Captain Kudo is a product of the dominant religion of our time, leftism. And one important feature of the Left’s moral relativism and moral confusion is a strong pacifistic strain.

   “Many veterans are unable to reconcile such actions in war with the biblical commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ When they come home from an environment where killing is not only accepted but is a metric of success, the transition to one where killing is wrong can be incomprehensible.”

I give Captain Kudo the benefit of the doubt that he does not know that the commandment in its original Hebrew reads, “Thou shalt not murder,” not “Thou shalt not kill.” The King James translators did an awe-inspiring job in translating the Bible. To this day, no other English translation comes close to conveying the majesty of the biblical prose. But the Hebrew is clear: “lo tirtzach” means “Do not murder.” Hebrew, like English, has two primary words for homicide — “murder” and “kill.”

Murder is immoral or illegal killing.

Killing, on the other hand, can be, and often is, both moral and legal.

In order to ensure that no more Marines share the captain’s moral confusion, the Marine Corps should explain to all those who enlist that the Bible only prohibits murder, not killing. It should further explain that killing murderers — such as the Nazis and Japanese fascists in World War II and the Taliban today — is not only not morally problematic, it is the apotheosis of a moral good. Refusing to kill them means allowing them to murder.

   “This incongruity can have devastating effects. After more than 10 years of war, the military lost more active-duty members last year to suicide than to enemy fire.”

As we have seen, there is no “incongruity” here. And if so many members of the American military believe that it is so “incongruous” to kill the moral monsters of the Taliban — the people who throw lye in the faces of girls who attend school (and shoot them in the head if they’re outspoken about the right of girls to an education); who murder medical volunteers who give polio shots to Afghan children; and who stone women charged with “dishonoring” their families — that they are committing suicide in unprecedented numbers, we have a real moral crisis in our military.

   “To properly wage war, you have to recalibrate your moral compass. Once you return from the battlefield, it is difficult or impossible to repair it.”

You only “have to recalibrate your moral compass” if you enter the military with a broken moral compass — one that neither understands the difference between murder and killing, nor how evil the Taliban is.

   “War makes us killers. We must confront this horror directly if we’re to be honest about the true costs of war.”

Other than the author, are there many Americans who enter the military in time of war without confronting the fact that they are likely to kill? Furthermore, it is not “war” that makes us killers; it is the Taliban. We kill them in order to protect Afghans from Taliban atrocities, and to protect America from another 9/11.

   “I want to believe that killing, even in war, is wrong.”

Why would anyone want to believe that? Were the soldiers who liberated Nazi death camps “wrong”?

   “The immorality of war is not a wound we can ignore.”

With all respect, I would rewrite this sentence to read: “The moral confusion of a Marine captain is not a wound we can ignore.”

Every American is deeply grateful to Captain Kudo for his service on behalf of his country, and on behalf of elementary human rights in Afghanistan. I have to wonder, however, why, given his belief that killing is always wrong, Timothy Kudo ever enlisted in the Marines.

On the other hand, he will fit in perfectly at NYU.

— This is Dennis Prager’s fourth column this year in an ongoing series, “How the Left Thinks.”Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

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