Category Archives: American Exceptionalism

The Greatest Generation: bitter-sweet

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Sweet because I have had the high honor and privilege of knowing some of these men in recent years who have called me friend and shipmate.  Bitter in knowing the friendships would be short-lived.

The young men above are three of the “greatest”:  Bob Allard, Gene Beckstrom and I don’t know the third young man.  In September we lost Bob Allard, and then in mid-November we lost Gene Beckstrom.

I met Bob Allard briefly at a ship reunion in Denver, and that was a sweet experience. Gene and Bob served together on the Porterfield down in the fire-rooms, but hadn’t seen one another since 1946 and the end of the war. When Bob saw Gene, his countenance lit up and he shouted out “Beckstrom – where the hell have you been? I’ve been looking for you for years.” 

I was the mouse in the corner eaves-dropping on this wonderful reunion, and dared not intrude.

Bob gave the picture of the three shipmates to Gene who from that point on treasured it. The next year (2016) at the San Diego, Gene once more proudly brought out that picture. Gene’s son Bruce – also a Navy veteran – has the picture now.

I’ll greatly miss this man!

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What is the legacy these men leave behind?

When these young man (Gene was 16), along with 10’s of thousands of others, entered the service the German war machine had overrun all of Western Europe, much of Northern Africa, were threatening Great Britain and had invaded the Soviet Union to the east. Germany’s ally Italy was part of the axis juggernaut. 

In the far-east, the Japanese military had brutally invaded Korea, China, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and were threatening New Zealand and Australia. 

So the task facing these young men was daunting indeed.

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What sort of world did these young men, and those who followed, leave behind?

A free Western Europe with representative constitutional governments and free market economies.

Communism was stopped with the former slave nations of Eastern Europe now living as part of the free world.  

The Soviet backed North Korean invasion of South Korea was stopped and South Korea is now a strong, free and successful nation.

Japan has been transformed into a modern free industrial nation.

 

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France: The Cost of Liberation

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
Ronald Reagan

The cost of regaining freedom was enormous. Paid for by thousands of American, British, Canadian and Free French soldiers, sailors and airman.

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The Liberation of France

Five weeks in Paris including two trips to Normandie provides much for reflection and thought.

One such thread is the liberation of France and Europe, beginning on the beaches of Normandie in 1944.

So being of the curious type and always looking to learn something new, I  found some pictures of those days and would like to share.

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And why the jubilation and gratefulness on the part of the French?

holocaustIn four years of German/Nazi occupation, 200,000+ French citizens, mostly Jews, and many thousands of children and infants, were ‘deported’ to the death camps never to be seen or hugged again.

 

Don Johnson — September 2017

 

The Myth of American Innocence–a review of drivel


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https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/08/unlearning-the-myth-of-american-innocence  (Read for yourself.)

I’ve had this Guardian article in my sights for some time now, but have been holding off until after our month long stay in Paris with a trip to Normandy and Omaha Beach.

The author punches all the buttons of self-hate/America-hate that many such as her have developed in their cloistered world.

She talks of her winning a writing fellowship that took her to Turkey where she apparently was able to validate her theme of “the myth of American innocence.”  Reading her article multiple times leads me to think she remains in her academic-journalism bubble, and this article has the flavor of yet another entry in a writing contest.

She writes of a view of America and Americans she claims is held by foreigners (non-Americans). But she offers no ticket stubs of travel to nations other than Turkey, where she apparently has taken up permanent residence —  although I see from her book that she has also traveled to other predominantly Muslim countries such as Egypt and Iran.  Others of us who have traveled to many other nations and have friends and family in places such as; Norway, Hungary, France, Czech Republic, Croatia, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand and elsewhere perhaps have a different experience of how America and Americans are viewed.

Muslim nations have long held anti-Western animosities, often resulting in wars of  invasion to forcefully conquer and displace Christianity and Judaism – indeed Western civilization — with Islam.  So it’s not surprising that Ms. Hansen would find herself  indoctrinated with the world view of the Islamic nations she has chosen to reside in. What she has apparently deprived herself of is the rich heritage of Western Civilization that Islam would seek to displace. 

So in keeping with Ms. Hansen’s anti-American screed, let’s take a tour of how some other peoples view American and Americans — beginning with Vietnam.

The Vietnam War was a long and hard fought war waged in support of an ally and an effort to stem the spread of communism in that part of the world. Ms. Hansen talks of communism, but has no grasp of what it really was (is) – she writes:   “I knew that communism had gone away, but never learned what communism had actually been (“bad” was enough).”   Not that she will ever read this review, but let me inform her and others – communism in the 20th century is credited with taking the lives of some 100 million people over a period of 70 some years. And it was aggressively on the move during the era of the Cold War and the very hot Vietnam campaign of that war.  I have a friend that grew up under communism in Hungary, and in fact was wounded in the 1956 rebellion against that tyranny.

It reflects a failure and a bias of American education that the author grew up with such an extremely shallow knowledge of a history that occurred so  close to her lifetime. But, being a journalist, shouldn’t she have felt an obligation to self educate herself on the facts of communism? The information is there in abundance, especially in this day of the internet.  Perhaps her journalistic career at the New York Times Magazine (left wing), Vogue (women’s issues), Bookforum (book reviews)  and the Baffler (left wing) haven’t afforded her the opportunity or motivation to research topics she pontificates in this article.

Continuing with Vietnam, the war was won militarily and politically in 1973 by the American and South Vietnamese forces, and a peace treaty was signed in Paris which divided the nations along the DMZ. The peace treaty also included provisions for American material support of the self defense of South Vietnam against future aggression for the North.   

However, in 1975 the Democrat controlled US congress reneged on US treaty obligations and cut off all funding for the South Vietnam. This was a huge green light, and within months the North Vietnamese rolled into the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon.  

The alleged anti-American view the author attributes to other nations is expressed in part in her words:

American exceptionalism did not only define the US as a special nation among lesser nations; it also demanded that all Americans believe they, too, were somehow superior to others. How could I, as an American, understand a foreign people, when unconsciously I did not extend the most basic faith to other people that I extended to myself? This was a limitation that was beyond racism, beyond prejudice and beyond ignorance. This was a kind of nationalism so insidious that I had not known to call it nationalism; this was a self-delusion so complete that I could not see where it began and ended, could not root it out, could not destroy it.”

This excerpt shows a lack of understanding and misdirection of what is meant by “American Exceptionalism.” American Exceptionalism can, and should, be summarized by a few simple words – liberty and opportunity. It is through these simple words, put into practical application throughout American history, that the United States of American has become the greatest civilization the world has ever seen. Dr. Walter Williams summarizes it thusly:

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I don’t think this view of Ms. Hansen reflects the view of the many thousands of Vietnamese refugees that fled tyranny and almost certain death at the hands of the communist North Vietnamese conquers. You can get a feel for them in watching the documentary The Lucky Few at https://youtu.be/S9svL4j9xCc. I’ve talked with the Skipper and the Chief Engineer of that small American ship – USS Kirk — that rescued  some 30,000+ refugees, and have seen the lifelong bond and love exchanged between the crew of that ship and the refugees they rescued.

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The picture above is the Captain of the small US Navy destroyer USS Kirk and two of the 33,000 Vietnamese refugees that ship is credited with saving. The one on the right was so grateful to America that she added  Kirk as the middle name of her daughter.
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The same is true of the many (40,000+) Hungarian refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution who have contributed so much to American life.   I have written much on this —  read my article “Immigration & Assimilation – A Hungarian Model” at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/immigration-assimilation-a-hungarian-model-2/ to get the flavor of these people – and in particular the story of my friend Adam von Dioszeghy. I have written a book “Budapest at War“ at http://www.blurb.com/b/8107619-budapest-at-war where I document a portion this man’s life and experiences through three wars; as a child in World War II, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and as a US Naval officer with three combat tours to Vietnam.  This man, when called up in the draft in the early build up to Vietnam, served willingly and with gratitude to the nation that had provided him liberty and opportunity. This book is a culmination of a personal tour  Adam gave us through the streets of Budapest where these events took place in his life.

The picture below is of Adam von Dioszeghy standing beside the stature of President Ronald Reagan in the Freedom Plaza near the Hungarian Parliament. Hungarians give much credit  to President Reagan and the United States for the freedoms they gained when Communism was finally defeated.  Similar statues are in Warsaw and Gdansk Poland in recognition of Reagan’s and America’s bringing liberty to Poland.
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So tell me again how much America is disliked by foreign nations.

Spending a month in Paris recently, with a visit to Normandy, the American Cemetery  and the small village of Sainte Mere Eglise gave me a taste of the gratitude the French feel for America.
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The picture below is one of two stained glass windows in the church at Sainte Mere Eglise where you can see Paratroopers of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Division depicted.

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Then there is this sculpture seen as you enter the town square. Looking closely you see two hands reaching skywards toward the paratrooper. And you see the chains broken away from those outstretched hands.
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And on the church, some 73 years later, you see the parachute draped around the church steeple where it got tangled – and in effigy is the American soldier dangling precariously above the German soldiers below (he survived).  
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In the visitors center at the American Cemetery I heard testimonies from French citizens such as one which I paraphrase  “these soldiers came from thousands of kilometers away and died by the thousands for us, and they didn’t even know us.”   

So tell me again Ms. Hansen, how much America is disliked by foreign nations.

Ms. Hansen writes much of white American Christianity, and its detriment to humanity, blacks in particular.  She culls out author James Baldwin in particular as someone who has had a good deal of influence in her thinking and her world view. It’s good to have role models, and I also have read James Baldwin in years past. But here again it seems Hansen falls very short as a journalist.

In singling out one man’s experience as a black in America, she rightfully shows how he eloquently presents what the typical experience has been for most blacks in American history.  However, she very well could have developed a more balanced view on the opportunity that American liberty provides – even under the most unlikely circumstances of life.

I speak here of  Condoleezza Rice, a black woman raised in the harsh poverty of segregationist Alabama. Included in Rice’s resume: – accomplished concert pianist, National Security Adviser to President George W Bush,  Secretary of State under President Bush, author, Provost and professor at Stanford University.

I speak of Dr. Benjamin  Carson, raised in the slums of Detroit and Boston by a illiterate single mother. Carson became a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins and is now the  Secretary of Housing and Urban Renewal.

I speak of Dr. Thomas Sewell, raised in the slums of New York City and on his own at 17 with no job, no money, no education and very little prospects for the future. Sewell became a prominent economist and a syndicated commentator  on economic, social, cultural and political issues. 

I speak of Charles Payne, a financial commentator at Fox Business News.   Payne grew up poor in Harlem in a single parent home. He founded  ‘Wall Street Strategies’ and is its chief executive officer and principal financial analyst.

And there’s many more …

Ms. Hansen should expand her knowledge of successful blacks beyond her selected few (actually she singles out only one). 

Hansen writes of American patriotism, actually mocking it  …

“ … Mostly what I remember of that war in Iraq was singing God Bless the USA on the school bus – I was 13 – wearing little yellow ribbons and becoming teary-eyed as I remembered the video of the song I had seen on MTV.

‘And I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free’

That “at least” is funny. We were free – at the very least we were that. Everyone else was a chump, because they didn’t even have that obvious thing. Whatever it meant, it was the thing that we had, and no one else did. It was our God-given gift, our superpower.

At the risk of repeating myself (but repetition can be a good teacher) , perhaps our world savvy journalist should travel to the small French town of Sainte Mere Eglise, the first town liberated following the allied landings at Normandy during World War II. I just came from there, and can say with pride I’m proud to be an American
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  This little town bristles with memorabilia expressing gratitude and thanks to those American soldiers that brought back liberty to their Nazi (real Nazis) occupiers. The small church where a paratrooper had his Parachute hung up on the church steeple now has two stained glass windows depicting those soldiers.

On entry to the village square you see this sculpture pictured here:

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Looking closely we see profound symbolism — the parachute descending from above … two hands reaching up to that parachute … broken chains falling away from the hands … the church … and a defunct and obsolete symbol of war – the machine gun.

Travel beyond New Jersey and Turkey might lend a bit of realism to Ms. Hansen’s idea of how much of the world views American and Americans.

She writes of racism in America and the western nations, and quotes Baldwin:

“ … But I have always been struck, in America, by an emotional poverty so bottomless, and a terror of human life, of human touch, so deep, that virtually no American appears able to achieve any viable, organic connection between his public stance and his private life.

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All of the western nations have been caught in a lie, the lie of their pretended humanism; this means that their history has no moral justification, and that the west has no moral authority.

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White Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any colour, to be found in the world today. … “

Again, Ms. Hansen shows an abysmal lake of knowledge of history, both world and American history.

Slavery was common throughout world history throughout the world, including in the wide spread British empire, and the British colonies in the American South. 

However, in the early 1800s, largely through the heroic lifelong struggle of William Wilberforce, a white Christian Englishman and member of Parliament, the slave trade,  slavery and the very philosophical and scientific rational for slavery was abolished in the British Empire – did you get that Suzy Hansen? A white Christian man.

Slavery was abolished in the United States much later, at the price of some 600,000+ lives lost, mostly young white Americans. And the motivation for the American anti-slavery abolitionist movement was – ready Ms. Hansen? White American Christian men and women who viewed slavery as a grave sin.

Predictably Ms. Hansen throws in the obligatory attack on capitalism with this … “No matter how well I knew the predatory aspects of capitalism … “  Yes, we know that capitalism has its flaws and excesses. Though not explicitly stated in this article, one could get the impression  that Ms. Hansen would prefer a state controlled economy. But all that would do would be to consolidate all of capitalism’s flaws  and failings under a single unaccountable and tyrannical government. That’s called socialism, of whatever strip. And it has been a failure, most often catastrophic,  wherever and whenever tried in history – Venezuela being the most recent and visible failure.

Ms. Hansen, as a journalist and historian,  also fails to recognize that the American style of free market capitalism has brought more liberty, prosperity and wealth to more people around the world than any other form of economic system. China, where there was widespread poverty and famine in recent decades has become an economic juggernaut in recent years by introducing a form of capitalism into its still autocratic communist political system.

I will conclude this review of drivel with another excerpt from Hansen’s article and a few concluding comments on American Exceptionalism.

“ … American exceptionalism had declared my country unique in the world, the one truly free and modern country, and instead of ever considering that that exceptionalism was no different from any other country’s nationalistic propaganda, I had internalised[sic] this belief. Wasn’t that indeed what successful propaganda was supposed to do? I had not questioned the institution of American journalism outside of the standards it set for itself – which, after all, was the only way I would discern its flaws and prejudices; instead, I accepted those standards as the best standards any country could possibly have. … “

Wow … quite an indictment, not only of American Exceptionalism, but American journalism as well, calling it ‘nationalistic propaganda’.  Journalism by its very nature is often biased and non-objective – witness the very biased anti-Trump reporting and commentary of the New York Times. But for the most part it has done a credible job in presenting news and opinion. But I would not use the very broad brush that Ms. Hansen uses here to slam American Journalism as a whole.

To supplement the daily dish of news and commentary we get from journalists, print or media, it is good to read good substantive and well researched history books. I wonder if Ms. Hansen delves much into this rich world.

One such book I would recommend is “The Miracle of Freedom – 7 Tipping Points the Saved the World” by Chris and Ted Stewart. I’ve read this book several times and have written a review of it at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/the-miracle-of-freedom-the-american-baseline/

A major point this book makes is the rarity of freedom. The authors point out that in all of human history, in all places and at all times, a very small fraction of people have ever lived in what many of us know as freedom. And, of that small percentage (<4%) most have lived in the relatively recent lifespan of the United States of America with its constitution,  and nations who have adopted similar forms of representative governments. That coupled with the Condoleezza Rice book – Democracy – which I mentioned above give much credence to the claims of those who view the history of the United States as one of American Exceptionalism. 

Ms. Hansen’s view of America, American history and American Exceptionalism, I must say is very wrong — ignorant of history — much off target —  and very damaging.

Don Johnson – September 2017



A Navy reunion–and more: a personal walk through history.

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My wife Diana and I have just returned from Budapest Hungary where we visited an old Navy shipmate and his wife Aliz.

Adam and I served together on the USS Porterfield DD-682, a destroyer, in 1965-66. Adam was an officer and I was enlisted, so it couldn’t be said that we were friends or old Navy buddies. But we stood shoulder to shoulder at General Quarters – our Battle Stations – in a small space called IC-Plot from where our five 5” guns were controlled. Adam was a memorable character in those days, with an uplifting attitude and demeanor that helped ease any boredom or tension during long, often very hot, watches during combat operations off the coast of Vietnam.  He had an accent and an  unpronounceable last name beginning with ‘van’ or ‘von’ which was changed by all aboard to Mr. von D. For years I thought he was Dutch.

We went our separate ways following our Naval service, and I didn’t give him – or for that matter my Navy experience — much thought thereafter. Then at a Porterfield reunion a few years ago I was able to get my hands on the cruise book from that time in the Western Pacific. I was drawn to the ships roster and that strange name von Dioszeghy. I did an internet search for that name and discovered the Facebook page of Aliz von Dioszeghy and sent off a message asking if this lady knew of that crazy Dutchman from the Porterfield. She did, and was married to him. I soon found out that Adam had written a wonderful 440 page story of his life beginning as a 7 year old in the midst of the WW-II Red Army siege of Budapest.  By the time I finished his book I felt I knew this man and his incredible life story.

Then in May 2017 the opportunity to visit Adam and Aliz presented itself at the end of a Baltic cruise.

What follows is a personalized historical account of a tour conducted by Adam through the significant places and events of his life in Budapest. 

January 1945 This first set of pictures show some of the places where Adam and his mother endured the WW-II battles all around and above them. The allied bombers were bombing the city from above, the Germans controlled a square just down the boulevard to the left of their apartment, and the Red Army  controlled the square down to the right. Bombs, bullets and artillery shells flowed in abundance.

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Adam and his mother lived on the third floor of this building.

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And behind this basement window was the bomb shelter where the building residents endured the bombings. 

This is also the window where Adam’s young German soldier friend Hans positioned himself with two machine guns in a futile attempt to hold off the advancing Red Army.

Hans, 19 years old, befriended 7 year old Adam and gave him his last chocolate just before his unit pulled out and left him to delay the Red Army onslaught.  A hand grenade thrown in the basement window ended the life of young Hans.

Adam and his wife Aliz live close by this window, and on their way to church Adam respectfully salutes that window – “Hans didn’t start that war” says Adam. And Aliz invariably tears up. 

The bombing cut off the water supply to the apartment building, so the residents had to traverse the main boulevard to a nearby apartment building that still had water. This was a very dangerous operation requiring Adam’s mother to cross a very active combat zone. 

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The Red Army to the left.

The German Army to the right and the street in front of Adam’s home.

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This is the apartment building from where Adam’s mother carried water in buckets. One day just as she entered the door to get water, a bomb hit above her and collapsed the front of the building causing rubble to bury her up to her neck. Miraculously she was not injured and neighbors removed the debris allowing her escape. 

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This is the doorway to the building where Adam’s mother was buried by the building debris. Adam remembers seeing her in the doorway on her return to the bomb shelter as a ghostly image covered in white plaster dust.

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Walking the streets of Budapest in 2017, 73 years after the fact, makes it difficult to place all of this in the context of the time. The pictures below show a small part of the carnage of the siege of Budapest.

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The bridges of Budapest are beautiful, but not so much during the war.

Post War Budapest to October 1956 – I don’t have any pictures of life for Adam and his mother under the Communist rule following the war, but life after the war under Communism is brutal for Adam and his mother, and especially tough because of his mother’s previous station in life as an aristocrat. Here is how he describes the treatment of his mother in those Communist years:

“ … she … was stripped of all human dignity common to even the lowest of beings. The authorities treated her worse than if she was a leper or a person afflicted with the foulest of communicable diseases, or possibly a criminal. There were only certain places – and not very desirable ones – where she was allowed to live. … Day in and day out, in every conceivable circumstance, it was made known to her that her very existence was bothersome to the “state,” and the sooner she could depart this vale of tears for better climes the better. … “

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October 1956 – Now we move forward to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. In the following picture sequence we follow Adam as he walks us through to those places of personal remembrances, and the tragedies experienced by those freedom fighters.

The revolution started as a student solidarity movement in support of student protests in Poland. It began as a peaceful and unarmed demonstration against a tyrannical Communist government. The group drew up a list of 16 requests – not demands as Adam points out – that were brought to the radio station along this very narrow street where 5000 students had marched.

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The government response to the 16 requests was “not only no – but hell no.” Officials in the radio station were armed, and soon a shot rang out from above and a young student was killed in the street below.

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This plaque on the sidewalk opposite the radio station commemorates this first casualty of the revolution, marking the name and date of this young man’s death.

And these plaques on the wall of the radio station commemorate the event – and that is Adam’s hand reaching up to that commemoration.  

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The protests moved to the Parliament building, a magnificent building, and one in which Adam’s grandfather, a Baron,  had in years past sat as a member of the Hungarian Parliament.

Adam recounts that at some point in what was now a revolution, a truck drove up to where the students had gathered and started handing out weapons. Adam recalls when about twenty students gathered in a room, each having a Russian machine gun. They are sitting in a circle facing one another as someone is instructing them on how to use these weapons. Suddenly a shot rings out, and a young student just to the right of Adam falls dead, a casualty of an accidental shot from one of those machine guns. 

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Back to the Parliament, the scene is one where there is a huge crowd gathered in the square between the front of the Parliament building and the building shown above.

There were armed government soldiers stationed on the roof of that building and they started shooting indiscriminately into the crowd.  There were also tanks stationed in front of the parliament, and at one point a tank commander is fed up with the killing from the rooftop, and he shoots a couple of tank rounds to the shooters above. 

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Years later, after the collapse of the Communist regime, the deaths of those brave freedom fighters is commemorated by the placement of these bronze balls on the walls of the building from which those murders took place – one for each death.

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Somewhere along the way Adam is wounded and he is headed back to the Technical University, pictured above, where he was a student.

A friend and fellow student intercepts Adam on the bridge pictured above and warns him to turn back. A wounded and bandaged student is certain to be arrested and most likely to be executed. So Adam turns back and thus begins the next chapter in the life of Adam von Dioszeghy and his mother – a flight to freedom in Austria and ultimately to the United States.

It is important to note that as this revolution unfolded, nearly every segment of Hungarian society joined with the students in the attempt to throw off the tyranny.  This included even the Hungarian military, which had to be removed from the city and replaced by Soviet troops from the interior of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the Soviets brutally crushed the revolution resulting in many arrests, deaths and tens of thousands of refugees, some 40,000 who came to the United States. 

Again, walking the streets of Budapest in 2017, 60 years after the fact, makes it difficult to place all of this in the context of the time. The pictures below show a small part of the carnage of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The images are brutal.

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Sitting at the breakfast table in our hotel overlooking the streets of Budapest in 2017, it is hard to picture anything different than the people below going to and fro – peaceful and minding their own business going shopping, going to work or school. That is what Budapest and the world should look like.

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The life of a refugee in America.

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Coming to the United States as a refugee; to a foreign land and a foreign culture, not knowing the language was the next huge hurdle facing this young man.

But Adam’s life in America shows the grit and fortitude of this young man who had lost everything in his Hungarian homeland. His family heritage in Hungary was one of aristocracy, land and wealth. Yet here he was, having to begin a new life from scratch.

In 1957, Adam and his mother arrived to an exceptional nation. A nation that afforded him two key elements that make that nation exceptional – liberty and opportunity. Adam took great advantage of that fabric of liberty and opportunity and earned a degree at Stanford University, one of the great universities of America. Then when his new nation called him to military service in time of need at the beginning of the Vietnam War, he gratefully stepped up and became a US Naval officer serving three tours to the war zone of Vietnam.

Following his Navy service, Adam returned to Stanford earning a law degree and practicing law in the San Francisco area for many years before retiring and returning to his homeland of Hungary.   

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A fitting conclusion to this story is this picture of Adam standing beside the statue of President Ronal Reagan in Budapest’s Freedom Square. Communism had failed and fallen, and the people of Hungary rightly commemorate their liberty with this tribute to this great American leader. 

Leaders like American President Ronald Reagan, Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II took note of the evils of Communism, and were finally in a position to defeat it and bring liberty to those many like Adam von Dioszeghy who yearned so strongly for and fought for it.

Adam is engaged in another battle for survival, this time against a cancer that has invaded his body. These kinds of personal battles eventually visit all of us, but I must say, this friend of mine shows a love of life – a joy of living – not often seen. A joy in spite of the tragedies he has lived through. But no … I believe his joy comes not in spite of, but rather because of his experiences. I am honored to be his friend and shipmate.        

Poland likewise recognizes Reagan with similar tributes.

“ … Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. … “

Ronald Reagan

References and further reading:

BRIDGING TWO WORLDS: Memories and Reflections – at https://www.amazon.com/BRIDGING-TWO-WORLDS-Memories-Reflections/dp/1622878663/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

My review of Adam’s book at — https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/bridging-two-worlds-a-book-review/

The Bridge at Andau: The Compelling True Story of a Brave, Embattled People — at https://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Andau-Compelling-Embattled-People/dp/0812986741/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496567578&sr=1-1&keywords=the+bridge+at+andau

Immigration & Assimilation – A Hungarian Model – at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/immigration-assimilation-a-hungarian-model-2/

Statue in Budapest’s Liberty Square credits Reagan for freedom  — at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/29/statue-in-budapests-liberty-square-credits-reagan-/

Ronald Reagan statue unveiled in Warsaw  — at  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/poland/8904456/Ronald-Reagan-statue-unveiled-in-Warsaw.html

Reagan, John Paul II honored with statue in Gdansk Poland – at: http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Reagan-John-Paul-II-honored-with-statue-3707733.php

What’s Become of the American Dream?

American Dream

Peggy Noonan writes a wonderful piece in the Wall Street Journal. Click  “What’s Become of the American Dream?” to read the article.

Much in Noonan’s piece brought me back to the memoirs of Sam Jankovich which I have just finished editing and publishing.

A couple of excerpts from Noonan …

“ … The American dream is the belief, held by generation after generation since our beginning and reanimated over the decades by waves of immigrants, that here you can start from anywhere and become anything. In America you can rise to the heights no matter where and in what circumstances you began. You can go from the bottom to the top.  … “

The picture at the top is the last page of the memoir, and shows one such person who has gone “from the bottom to the top” in the literal sense of from a mile deep mine shaft to presenting a national championship game ball to the President of the United States.

Noonan further writes:

“ … The American dream was about aspiration and the possibility that, with dedication and focus, it could be fulfilled. But the American dream was not about material things—houses, cars, a guarantee of future increase. That’s the construction we put on it now. It’s wrong. A big house could be the product of the dream, if that’s what you wanted, but the house itself was not the dream. You could, acting on your vision of the dream, read, learn, hold a modest job and rent a home, but at town council meetings you could stand, lead with wisdom and knowledge, and become a figure of local respect. Maybe the respect was your dream.  … “

Click on the book cover below and take a look at Sam’s story.

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          (Click on the cover above)

As Noonan further writes:

“ … You can give a dozen examples, and perhaps you are one, of Americans who turned a brilliant system into a lived-out triumph. … “

And I do know of a number other examples.

 

Don Johnson – April 2017

Sam Jankovich: The Story of a Sports Legend

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Sam's life 007

“ … I worked in the Leonard mine which was the turning point of my life. I was put in a tunnel and was scared to death. I thought for certain I would not get out alive. I came home and told Patty that if I had to work in the mine we were going to starve. … “

How did this young man, a hard rock miner from Butte Montana, rise from the depths of a mine tunnel to one day stand beside two Presidents and among two National Championship college football teams? From a dirty and dangerous mine to stand beside Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testeverde and coaches of the caliber of Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson? How did this young man rise from that dark, cold mine shaft to become Chief executive Officer of the New England patriots? How did this man expand a football stadium in Pullman Washington from 24,000 to 39,000 seats – with no cost to the tax payer?

Sam Jankovich came to the surface of the Leonard mine and rose to the top of his chosen profession of athletics. From state championship teams in Butte — to assistant coaching at universities in Montana and Washington — to Athletic Director at Washington State and the University of Miami – to CEO of the Patriots. All along the way earning induction into the Halls of Fame of these institutions.

As the editor of Sam’s memoirs I learned the answers to these questions. Sentence by sentence – paragraph by paragraph – page by page – place to place. I found the answers in words like ‘character’, ‘loyalty’, ‘quality’ and ‘consistency’ bubbling up from the pages. I began to see the character of the man as golden threads woven through the fabric of his life and career. Part of the fabric and yet distinctly visible.

The story of Sam Jankovich is in these pages, but it is not a story of “I”. Rather, it seems subsumed and surrounded by the many stories of the “others” of Sam’s life. You will run across constantly recurring phrases as “… a wonderful man” “ … a wonderful person” “… a dear friend”, “a wonderful woman”

Sam Jankovich is one of the “old timers” I’ve become acquainted or reacquainted with in recent years. Others, along with their stories, have come to me from my Navy past — some from that “Greatest Generation” of World War II, Korea, the Cold War and Vietnam. One of my Navy shipmates, and a friend, is a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and a three tour Navy Vietnam veteran. Another is a Navy veteran of those many World War II sea-battles in the South Pacific — followed by infantry combat in that very brutal Korean War – followed by a long career as a Christian pastor .

These folks who have lived such consequential lives, and have left behind recollections of their lives, deserve to be remembered. That is why I have become passionate in doing what I can to further those remembrances.

I hope you enjoy the story of one such consequential life – the life of Sam Jankovich.

Click on the image below to take a look at this remarkable man.

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Don Johnson – typoist and editor of Sam Jankovich