Freedom has been synonymous with America since its founding. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are deeply-held American beliefs. They are the beliefs that have held our country together since its inception. They are the beliefs that will continue to keep our country together in the years to come. Without people who own them, beliefs are meaningless. People are the vessels through which the belief that freedom isn’t free is acted out and turns into noble deeds preserved as a testament for future generations.
My father and the other men of the United States Army Air Force who bravely fought to preserve their country, their families, and their way of life knew the stakes were high. They knew that if the Allied Powers did not win WWII, a very different and frightening future lay ahead for their country, their families, and their way of life.
Sometimes, the purpose of engaging in a battle is not so much in what you have to gain as it is because of the knowledge of what you could lose if you do not fight. The brave and courageous men of the United States Army Air Force who risked their lives to preserve our freedom were acutely aware of this truth.
Because my father and the men of his generation knew the height of the stakes they were fighting for, they also knew that courage was not an exceptional character trait but a necessary character trait. As Aristotle said, “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” My father and his compatriots’ deeds were required to preserve their freedom, country, families, and way of life, requiring great courage and fortitude.
Character is what defines us as human beings. It is what crystalizes our actions in both the good and the bad times in our lives. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is, and the tree is the real thing.” Character is what makes us do the right thing when no one can see our actions, and we have little to gain from them but everything to lose. Character, in the end, is what leads to all quality traits, including courage.
Courage, in turn, leads people to deeds for the attainment or preservation of freedom. As John Quincy Adams said, “Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman before which difficulties disappear, and obstacles vanish into air.”
I often consider how my father and the rest of the WWII Army Air Force courageously fought for the freedom we enjoy today. That is what led me to write 8 Miraculous Months in the Malayan Jungle. I wanted to share this story to pass it on to readers both now and in the future. This story, in turn, hopefully, leads to an appreciation of my father’s and the “Greatest Generation’s” courage to fight for the freedom we all enjoy today.
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8 Miraculous Months in the Malayan Jungle
A WWII Pilot’s True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival