Memorial Day: How We Can Honor Those Who Paid The Ultimate Price

Memorial Day: How We Can Honor Those Who Paid The Ultimate Price. In this program, we have the privilege of speaking with Texas State Senator Colonel Brian Birdwell on Memorial Day and how we can honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom! Tune in now to learn more!

Air Date: 05/28/2018

Guest: Brian Birdwell

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith And The Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about the day’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. Always doing those things from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and our president at WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator.

You can find out more about us at our two websites WallBuildersLive.com, that’s our radio website, WallBuildersLive.com. And then WallBuilders.com, our main website, where you get all kinds of materials and downloads. Get tools for your Sunday school class, your family. There’s a lot of great information there, so check that out at WallBuilders.com.

Later in the program Colonel Brian Birdwell will be with us, he is a state senator in Texas, just an amazing guy with incredible story. He’s going to talk to us a little bit about Memorial Day and how we can honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

David, Tim, this is one of those programs where, for us here at WallBuilders, we often do our veterans interviews and we try to do everything we can to honor those who came before us and to share their stories. So, today’s a little bit unique in that it’s a national day for everyone to do the exact same thing.

David:

Yeah. And this is really different for Veterans Day, Rick. Because Veterans Day we honor those who served. But on Memorial Day we honor those who died while serving.

Tim:

And that’s not to say, by the way, that we can’t appreciate those who have served and are serving. Obviously, we want to appreciate them all the time. But it’s even something that, for example, we know some former military, we know some current military, that even almost get upset personally when people thank them like, “Hey, thank you for your service, appreciate Memorial Day.” And they’re like, “No, that’s not what this is about.”

The Difference Between Veterans Day and Memorial Day

Tim:

Because I think a lot of Americans just kind of take for granted that we’re supposed to acknowledge and appreciate military, which is a great place to be. It’s better than when you look back to Vietnam and there wasn’t the appreciation for the military, there wasn’t the gratitude, there wasn’t the thankfulness. So, we’re in a much better place, but we still don’t have the same level of awareness about the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

And I think even a lot of times if we do recognize that Memorial Day is a time honor the fallen. Sometimes a question even comes like, how do we do that? Because I want to do that, I want to do a good job. But how do I do that in a respectful manner? I want to support and so what does that really look like?

David:

We’ve asked veterans about that. How do you how do you honor Memorial Day? And some of them say it needs to be a celebration of my friends who have fallen. I want to think well of them. And it’s a kind of– they don’t want it to be depressing day for sure. They don’t want it to be depressing, but it is a time when you remember the sacrifices – not just the service but the sacrifice.

And it’s really something that goes back– you go back to General John Logan in 1868 and this was something that happened at the end of the Civil War. General Logan who is now the military commander, not the commander in chief. You have Andrew Johnson, President Johnson, was then. But General Logan issued this order for all of the military that they would take and they said to stru flowers over all the graves of those who have fallen in the Civil War.

So, what happened was at Arlington Cemetery General James A. Garfield who was become the 20th president, he gave the oration on the very first opportunity to stru flowers nationally if you will. And then ladies went out and put flowers on both union graves and Confederate graves and so it was known as Decoration Day. And so annually there was a day set aside where you would go to the graves and you would put flowers on the graves.

Decoration Day

David:

Well, when World War One came along and there’s so much loss of life at World War One they said, “Hey, let’s just make that Decoration Day, let’s make that a day where we commemorate those who have fallen in the service of their country in the military.” And not only in World War I, not only the Civil War, but in all wars. So, it was honored every year. But then under President Lyndon Johnson is when they went to the uniform Holidays Act where we celebrate all of our holidays federally on Monday. And so the last Monday in May is now officially Memorial Day.

So, Brian Birdwell was actually inside the Pentagon when the plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11. He is the closest survivor. All of those who served in offices and cubicles with him were all killed on that day, his friends there, but he survived. It was not easy. He’s gone through– I think the last time I asked him it was 52 or 53 surgeries he’s been through, they have put him back together. There used to be a TV program called The Six Million Dollar Man, he’s close to that. Just the reconstruction he’s been through. So, Brian went through all that and he’s here to share his story with us.

But he can also give us a good perspective on how to look at Memorial Day and the right way to honor those who have fallen in the military as we commemorate Memorial Day

Rick:

Colonel Brian Birdwell our special guest. Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live on this Memorial Day.

Share a veteran’s story

We Want To Hear Your Vet Story

Rick:

Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live.  Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.

One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.

You have friends and family that also served.  If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected]  Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on this Memorial Day. Our good friend, Colonel Brian Birdwell, retired Lieutenant Colonel Brian Birdwell, currently a state senator in Texas. And just a great friend to WallBuilders, the Bartons, the Greens. We love hanging out with him and always enjoy having him on the program. Colonel, good to have you, bro.

Brian Birdwell:

It is great to be back and join you was such a special day.

Rick:

I was trying to figure out before we got you on here how long we have been sharpening swords, council, iron, whatever, with you. And it’s been, man, almost two decades. It’s been–

The Greatest Profession Known to Man

Brian Birdwell:

Almost. I don’t remember exactly what day, but I remember the first time I met you was at one of David’s Capitol tours up in D.C. in the 2002 timeframe.

Rick:

Yep.

Brian Birdwell:

I don’t know whether it was late 2002 or summer, but I remember meeting you and–

Rick:

I know neither of us were grandpas at the time.

Brian Birdwell:

That’s correct.

Rick:

But we have both entered the greatest profession known to man and that is grandpa-hood–

Brian Birdwell:

Hoo-rah! Yeah.

Rick:

How cool is that.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah, like we were talking about up there in show prep, I never really understood all the people that would show us your grandkids and, “Oh yeah, cute.” But once you have your own, man, now I get it.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

I understand why grandparents were always showing me their grandkids.

Rick:

We’re now that guy.

Now That Guy

Brian Birdwell:

We’re that guy now, yeah.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

Instead of pulling out a wallet I pull out my cell phone and go, “Gee, which gallery do I want to show?”

Rick:

Right, exactly, exactly.

Well, speaking of grandkids I’ve noticed over the years when we do Constitution classes or whatever and we ask people why they care about freedom, or why they are willing to fight for it in terms of  the political world, and grassroots, and being good citizens. Or when I talk to veterans about why they were willing to serve, I think the number one answer I get is “my grandkids”. It’s when you get to that point that you think generationally, but most of our veterans when they served initially weren’t grandpas yet.

So, what caused you to want to serve and why do you think– I know Memorial Day we’re going to talk about what that really means. But just in terms of our veterans in general. Before you were a grandpa you were willing to lay down your life for freedom. That’s a different mindset than most people have in their late teens and early 20s.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah, and I agree with that, that it is true. Look, when I when I first came into the service, came in as a commission officer through ROTC, but I came in primarily because I saw it as an honorable profession. It had a high reputation, it was very, very, high on the– you know, lawyers are always at the bottom, or maybe I should say politicians are at the bottom.

Rick:

Yeah. Yeah, thanks. I’m in both of those I think sometimes, but you’re now one of those, so there you go.

What Professions Have the Greatest Respect?

Brian Birdwell:

I’m one of those. The respects– you see the polls – what professions have the greatest amount of respect and reverence?

Rick:

Right.

Brian Birdwell:

And it’s usually religious, pastors, and then the military is a close second.

And so when I went in it was primarily because my stepfather, my father’s influence, as to their military experiences. That yearning of freedom in every man’s heart that Ronald Reagan talked about and in– because I came in with him being the president of the United States.

You just felt that sense of patriotism in those early 80s. We were coming out of the Vietnam era, I remember watching that war on TV just like you did, saw what happened in the mid 70s, the Carter years and just how *.  And again, not trying to pick political fights, but just the malaze–

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

–and that sense of pride in our nation that we brought back with President Reagan in ‘81 when he came into office. And it just was– this is the profession that I wanted to pursue.

Rick:

Yeah, yeah.

Each Service Has a Unique Cross to Bear

Brian Birdwell:

And it’s not until the rigors of service – whether that’s the rigors of the physical demands, or the family demands of the separation from family – sometimes for a known period of time, sometimes not known. Navy families have it just absolutely brutal with the sea deployments. So, all the different services have their unique cross to bear, so to speak.

Rick:

Right.

Brian Birdwell:

But once you start living it, that’s when that maturity of spirit of why you’re doing it really manifests itself. There are a lot of young men that come into the– or women– come into the military because that’s their best option given their family dynamics. Sometimes it’s what I describe by just wanting to serve. And really, let me get some real life experience underneath my belt and then decide what direction I want to take in life. Or do I want to serve the military to get college dollars given what college debt looks like these days. That’s also a very popular option.

But once you’ve been in it for a while – there are those that stay, those that leave. Until you pay in blood or in some very personal way– I don’t mean to get heavy, Rick, but it’s then you know you’re invested.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

When you’ve been asked to do something hard, and in many ways you’re doing it in silence of the non notoriety of doing it, that no one knows what you’re having to do. The average American citizen doesn’t know the price being paid by guys on submarines at this very moment right now. It’s that kind of sacrifice that you’re unaware of. And then when you get asked to pay that price in blood, whether it’s on a distant battlefield or what happened to me at the Pentagon, the suffering that those in the military go through, just like when Christ suffered on the cross, that made our redemption all the more important.

Living the Liberties

Brian Birdwell:

Because those of us that have accepted the Lord made sure that his suffering did not go to waste. Those of us that have suffered – whether physically, financially, maritally, whatever the measure of that suffering is, or what lane of suffering you went through, you want to make sure that the American people don’t ever let that suffering go to waste. I don’t mean in veterans benefits. It’s living the liberties–

Rick:

That’s right.

Brian Birdwell:

–that those of us in uniform were protecting.

Rick:

That’s exactly right. I think that may be the most important lesson for folks today on Memorial Day is that what Lincoln called that “increased devotion”–

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Rick:

–to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Rick:

You’ve got all kinds of level of sacrifice and on Memorial Day we honor that ultimate sacrifice. And sometimes we question how do we honor that? I think that is the best way to live it out.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Be Thankful and Exercise Freedom

Rick:

To not just shake the hand of that veteran and say “thank you” or whatever it might be. But also on a daily basis just to be thankful and then actually exercise our freedom.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah. It’s the merit badge you used to get in either boy scouts or other scouting programs on citizenship and civics. It’s not just knowing what a free representative republic looks like it’s being a responsible, self disciplined citizen–

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

–to live those values, and be a producing member of society, and a productive member of society.

You’ll know the scripture, Rick, Washington somewhat quotes it, but it’s, “A man that cannot manage his own house cannot manage somebody else’s.”

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

And Washington somewhat relays that when he talks about would it be a man is not a patriot that does not manage his own home and be a good steward of his own house.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

And we’ve lost, in so many respects, that the moral certitude that standard of civics that says, “I’ll take care of my own because my duty to live in a free society is to be responsible for what I do or what I fail to do.”

Take Home Message for the Day

Rick:

That is so– in fact, that might be our take home message today is you really want to honor those who came before us and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Sit your kids down and teach them some good civics today.

Brian Birdwell:

Yes.

Teach them what it means to be free and what the American– how blessed they are to be in the American value system.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Rick:

And the fact that at any age you’ve got to start learning how to take on that responsibility.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Rick:

Just a practical way.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah. Paul Harvey always– like what Lincoln said, but Paul Harvey said, “There’s no self governance without self-discipline.”

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

And that’s, hopefully, that’s the big take away from today. Because an increased devotion, personalizing and internalizing what constitutional freedoms look like. All too often in today’s society it’s the first provider of resource is usually government. If I have a problem let me turn to government it to solve it.

Rick:

Right. That’s the mindset.

The Mindset That is Killing Our Nation

Brian Birdwell:

And that mindset is what is killing the nation.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

That is what’s culturally killing the nation.

Rick:

No doubt. No doubt.

Colonel, what’s the– for folks that may say, “Well, I can’t remember what’s Memorial Day versus Veterans Day and all of that.” The difference today–

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Rick:

–on Memorial Day specifically for those who paid the ultimate price.

Brian Birdwell:

Correct.

Rick:

Are there– I know there’s a lot of ceremonies around the country, they usually do something in Arlington Cemetery today–

Brian Birdwell:

Yes.

Rick:

–and different things like that. If people want to wanted to participate and in some way is there a way to say thanks today?

Ways To Participate

Brian Birdwell:

Absolutely. Whether it’s participating at the ceremonies like a Arlington, Daughters of the American Revolution, other military auxiliaries, or military organizations, DAV, the American Legion. Many of them if you want to contact a local chapter just because there’s a lot of folks that will go out and decorate veterans gravesites. There’s others that will have Memorial Day ceremonies.

Here locally in my hometown in Granbury, Texas. We’re doing what’s called a Field of Flags. So, it’s, there’s a lot of different things and different unique organizations doing unique different events–

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

–to mark Memorial Day. And sometimes the best way to be engaged is not– it’s a national holiday, but perform it and observe it locally.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

You can do that with your local– pick a local veterans group, or just call the American Legion, or VFW, or whatever you locally have. Just say, “What are y’all doing? I’d like to  help participate and join with y’all.”

Rick:

Right.

Brian Birdwell:

There’s just a lot of different– or even if it’s doing something on your own. Go to a local cemetery because there are some cemeteries that are well-kept and some that aren’t. And pick a veteran’s grave and decorate it, clean it, clean the headstone, in that way.

Rick:

That’s awesome.

Any Action

Brian Birdwell:

It is just, whatever you personally think is the best way for you to participate and honor.  Melanie and I always flower our flag at half mast, obviously. Memorial Day is for those killed in combat and Veterans Day is for those that have served and are still living and surviving with us.

Rick:

And I would think, Colonel, that any, any, action – even just bringing it up and having some sort of discussion at the dinner table that night. But any action that a family engages in is going to impress upon those kids that mindset of thankfulness–

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Rick:

–and what is it that we have an increased devotion to.

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah.

Rick:

Why did grandpa serve? Or why did that veteran–

Brian Birdwell:

Yeah, yeah.

Rick:

It really helps those kids begin to understand that at a young age.

Only One Percent of the Nation’s Population

Brian Birdwell:

Absolutely. It’s not just the young age, but too, it’s putting it in their family tree. Remember, only one percent of the nation’s population is going to put on that uniform.

Rick:

Wow.

Brian Birdwell:

And so the World War II generation was a complete mobilization of our nation. Korea, Vietnam, those were major mobilizations. And then you had, 15 years later, you had Desert Storm which was a very large operation. You had National Guard mobilizations and very select support role mobilizations for that.

But fundamentally the number of people that have had military service or interaction with somebody in the military has profoundly dropped.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

And so by personalizing the family tree story about an uncle, a grandfather ,that type of thing. It helps them understand that not only what Memorial Day is about, but that one of your fellow family members was part of that story.

Rick:

Yeah.

Brian Birdwell:

And why that service is so honorable.

Rick:

Makes it powerful and personal both.

Brian Birdwell:

Yes.

Rick:

Colonel, out of time, brother. Appreciate you so much, man. Thank you for serving not only in the military, but serving us in the state Senate. And we joked earlier about the whole politician thing. I don’t think you’re a politician, I think you’re a patriot and I appreciate you for being that. And always great because I know you’ve got a lot of people pulling at you for your time, so really appreciate your time and coming on WallBuilders live again today.

Brian Birdwell:

No, it’s my treat. You’re a patriot, my friend. Keep up the good work. God bless you. Hooah!!

RIck:

We’ll have you back soon. That was Colonel Brian Birdwell, state senator in Texas. Stay with us. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

Leadership Training Program

Rick:

Hey, friends! We’ve got a great program to share with you today. It’s the WallBuilders Leadership Training Program and it’s an opportunity for 18 to 25 year olds to come spend two weeks diving into the original documents we’re always talking about here on WallBuilders Live.

Tim, you’ve already been doing this a couple of summers and seen the results of young people coming to this program. We’re going to see more of them coming this year.

Tim:

Yeah, Rick, it’s something that’s been cool to see the transformation with young people coming in. The emphasis, for us, largely is a pursuit of truth. We have a culture that doesn’t know what truth is. We don’t know what biblical truth is, or constitutional truth, or the American heritage that we have. And so we really dive into original documents and say, “Well, what did they actually write? What did they actually do? Not just what did somebody say, what is actually true, and the truth is what’s transformational.

David:

Yeah, guys. This really is a remarkable opportunity. And for those who want to spend time with us and spend time in the original documents, this is a great program. So, if you’re from 18 to 25, or you know someone who’s 18 to 25, send them to sign up for one of our three sessions this summer at WallBuilders.com/leadershiptraining.

Rick:

Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Special thanks, very special thanks, to Colonel Brian Birdwell for joining us today. Always good to have him on the program and especially on days like this.

Back with David and Tim now. Guys, always a privilege to talk to the Colonel and just get his perspective. But it does make you really appreciate. And you can hear it in servicemen like him that special appreciation for their fallen comrades. Just like you were pointing out at the beginning of the program.

So Much More to the Story

Tim:

Yeah, we really appreciate Colonel Birdwell for really who he is, right. We could talk about what he’s gone through. And actually, I always feel a little bad when we do these interviews with so many of our military veterans. But with guys like Brian that we’ve known for so long, we know there’s so much more to his story that he can’t even unfold all of that in the 15 whatever minutes he has.

David:

I have to say that I wish you could see the pictures that go with his story. We show those to * when Brian speaks and to see what was going on in the hospital, to see what was going on when President Bush visited them, to see what was happening at the Pentagon eleven minutes after impact when they started taking photos. Visually, it is compelling stuff.

Tim:

It really is impactful to understand even some of the sacrifice that he went through. And then certainly as he talks about the loss around him and as he unfolds some of the aspects of his story that, of course, he can’t share all those details because we don’t have enough time. It makes you appreciate so much the people who voluntarily sign up to defend our freedom, to support our nation, to make sure that every American has the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, those principles laid out in the declaration. It makes us so grateful.

Which, by the way, so, a little plug – Brian Birdwell is going to be with us on TV tonight. So, tonight my dad and I are doing a TV special on Memorial Day talking to a lot of incredible military people and really unfolding some of the history of Memorial Day. But a lot of really cool stories. So, Congressman Steve Russell from Oklahoma, he’s the guy that led the soldiers that captured Saddam Hussein. We’re going to have Edgar Harrell who is a survivor from the USS Indianapolis which was the largest single loss of ship of any navy vessel–

History Stories

David:

Yeah, that was a World War II story where the Japanese torpedoed the ship. That’s the ship that actually was taking the atomic bomb parts that got dropped on Japan to end the war. But that ship, largest single loss of life of any naval disaster.

Tim:

And he was one of the guys that had to be there in the water, as it’s shark infested waters. So, all the men that are are dying from the sharks, and are dying from just the time without food and water. They were in there several days, which actually, he’s going to tell part of the story on the TV show tonight. So, it’s 7:00 p.m. on TBN. I think it’s going to air again at 10pm. And that’s central standard time.

So, you definitely, if you have a chance, you want to * you want to record, you want to watch this, it’s going to be incredible stuff going in some of these details. And getting more of these stories to help us understand and appreciate so much more our military and the price they pay for our freedom.

Rick:

7:00 p.m. Central. Also going to re-air at 10:00 p.m. central. That’s on TBN tonight, so you don’t want to miss that one, folks. Be sure and check it out.

You can get more at our website – WallBuildersLive.com. It’s got archives of our previous programs.

Memorial Day: How We Can Honor Those Who Paid The Ultimate Price

Rick:

We also encourage you to visit WallBuilders.com and we ask that you come alongside us and support the work that we’re doing here at WallBuilders. The radio program, the training of young people, even these programs like the Memorial Day program tonight that will air on TV. And all of these opportunities are a way to get the truth out there and encourage people in America to once again recognize how blessed they are to be free and then get engaged as citizens, so we can restore our Constitutional Republic. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.

2018-05-29T12:05:37+00:00May 28th, 2018|Military & Veterans|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Jeff Gardner June 1, 2018 at 9:44 am - Reply

    I was shocked to see that only two stations played any kind of military movies, but AMC played one movie over and over all day!
    The other one was TMC which play movie in dedication to those who served in the Battle of the bulge (Battleground 1945), the others I don’t remember the names but it had to do with the ones who came back with what was know at the time Shell Shock now known as PTSD, The last one I watched was Red badge of Courage a Civil war movie.

    They use to play many more…I don’t understand the change of what TV stations do anymore?

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