I looked up valor in the dictionary and found the official definition to be quite interesting. According to dictionary.com, valor is a special "boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery, also especially British valour. That's right….apparently the British have their own distinct spelling of the word (valour) and a special understanding of its meaning. So how can it be possible that 15 British marines were taken captive without firing a shot and how can it be that those same sailors were quick to become propaganda tools in the hands of their captors?
Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I am profoundly thankful to Almighty God that all 15 marines have been returned safely to their families. Anyone who witnessed the tearful reunions without being emotionally moved would have to be void of any feelings at all. It was certainly gratifying to see human life spared rather than being senselessly snuffed out.
But watching these soldiers paraded on Iranian TV, admitting to and apologizing for all kinds of things they did not do and thereby casting a dark shadow on their comrades and their country turned my stomach. I kept waiting with the rest of the world for some reasonable explanation for the images the world was seeing. I thought surely these soldiers must have been drugged or perhaps their captors threatened to do harm to their families or maybe they threatened the female member of their group with unspeakable torture and they capitulated to save her. I began to ask myself what I would do in that situation. Could I hold out against torture and the threat of bodily harm to those I love? I had to conclude that I would never know unless I was faced with the same circumstances.
Then I watched the press conference with the marines and my heart sank. When I first read Ralph Peters column in the New York Post where he asked the question "Was Margaret Thatcher the last real man in Britain" I thought he might have gone a little bit over the top. Now I wonder if his comment was strong enough. The two reasons they gave for not putting up a fight were the fear of starting an international incident and the fact they couldn't win. Obviously, being taken hostage while operating in international waters started an international incident which might have escalated just a quickly into war. As to whether or not they could have won the fight there are some things worse than fighting and losing….like maybe losing without a fight.
As the press conference went on, the members of the press tentatively began asking the questions that perhaps they were afraid to have answered. What had been done to these soldiers to cause them to sell out so completely? Surely they were brutalized beyond any reasonable expectation of resistance. But no, they were blindfolded, isolated and ultimately placed up against a wall where they heard weapons being cocked as if they were to be shot. They were then told if they didn't sell out their country and fawn all over their captors for the cameras they would face seven years in prison in Iran.
Let's see if I have this right. We are engaged in an international war on terror (something the Democrat party now denies) against an enemy that is perfectly willing to strap explosives on their bodies in order to kill their enemies. An enemy that will stop at nothing to defeat us….who will, as soon as they are capable, use a weapon of mass destruction against us perhaps killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people. And yet 15 of the best and bravest members of one of our key ally's elite marine force are willing to sell out because of psychological pressure and the threat of an Iranian prison.
During the Vietnam War, American soldiers faced all kinds of depravation, humiliation and all manner of psychological and physical torture at the hands of their Vietcong captors. Most refused to give more than their name, rank and serial number. It took Jane Fonda sitting on an anti-aircraft gun to give the enemy as much as a propaganda photo opportunity. Valor was much more than a word to those men. It was a way of life for them with some exhibiting the trait for years before being released.
The United States and her allies have won two world wars and have been successful in bringing about the destruction of the Soviet Union, perhaps the greatest evil empire of the 20th century. It wasn't bombs, bullets and brute force that won the day. It was the men and women who charged the hills, defied the odds, and refused to back up or give in against a determined enemy. Without valor and the will to win all the technology in the world cannot save us against people who fly airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. There are three things we must be willing to pay the ultimate price to defend. Those things are God, country, and family. If these things do not supply the proper motivation for the ultimate sacrifice we are undoubtedly doomed to lose this war. Let's all pray that valor makes a comeback before it is too late.
Dr. Tony Beam is Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.