Whenever you read about our Vietnam POWs, you are awestruck by their struggle for their humanity every minute — endeavoring to communicate with one another by every means possible, trying to smuggle a tiny scrap of soap back to their cells, and, of course, doing their utmost to give as little to the North Vietnamese as possible under horrific torture. In my column today, I call Jeremiah Denton’s affirmation of his loyalty to his government below — while famously blinking Morse code for the word “torture” — one of the great statements of defiance in American history. He had been tortured beforehand and would be tortured for his temerity afterwards, and he knew it.
What can you say of such a man? Commenter Randy Kaplan puts it well:
A supremely courageous hero, a brilliant soldier, a magnificent leader, a moral beacon, a true champion of freedom, a man of the profoundest wisdom, grace, and humility. Men like Jeremiah Denton come along only a couple of times each generation; events shape the lives, acts, and influence that such great men may have. Few ever fulfilled their destiny as splendidly as Jeremiah Denton, Jr. We may not see his like again, and we are the poorer for that, but so rich for the memories we do have. Rest in peace.
The one and only.