Greetings, everyone, and first, I have to say congratulations to the University of Kentucky Blue Nation for their resounding basketball victory over my Tennessee Volunteers Saturday night in Lexington. It was a great run for the Vols to be ranked #1 in college basketball for a month. I did not get to watch the game, as I was in Colorado Springs speaking at the 4th Annual Angels of America’s Fallen Gala at The Broadmoor Hotel – awesome place folks!
The mission of the Angels of America’s Fallen, headed up by a dynamic husband and wife team, Joe and Shelli Lewis, is to fulfill the dreams of children of our fallen military warriors, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and first responders. What they do is ascertain what type of extra-curricular activity these young kids would like to engage in, to allow them to find greatness, and not be mired down in grief. The highlight of the gala is the talent exhibition of these young kids. It brings a tear to the eye. I was honored to give the opening remarks.
Three of the children who performed are from one family, and their mother gave the moving keynote address for the evening. Her name is Dr. Alyssa Gavulic, PhD. She is the widow of USAF Special Operator (TACP) Master Sergeant Josh Gavulic who lost his life during an airborne freefall training operation. Alyssa is a true overcomer, someone who chose to be a victor, not a victim, as she has persevered not just through that tragic loss, but not much later, also lost her youngest daughter, beautiful little Lyla, just two and a half years old, to a drowning accident.
The Angels of America’s Fallen had already had Alyssa and her six children on their list, and sadly, when they called to inform her that her children would be beneficiaries of their efforts, she told them there were only five. Yes, as Alyssa spoke Saturday night, there were few dry eyes, but what I saw before me was a true, resilient, American woman. She refused to surrender, and even as she still hurts – she teared up several times in her speech – Alyssa has found triumph in her tragedy. That night, her three sons performed guitar solos. One also did a Jiu Jitsu demonstration. And her little daughter did a dance routine.
Angels of America’s Fallen had enabled these kids, and so many others, to live their dreams, not wallow in despair, and they all received a resounding applause.
And so, it was the following Sunday morning, a chilly 16 degrees, I was up to get in a four-mile run. If you know anything about Colorado Springs, first, it is not flat; second, it is at a high altitude. I learned why the U.S. Olympic team trains up there, and I ain’t no Olympian. Therefore, I needed to get my mind off the fact that I was sucking air, but I was not going to quit. As I ran those four miles, I reflected on Saturday evening and what I had been privileged to witness. I realized that I had been among the real American dreamers, not that politicized, ideological agenda-driven propaganda that we are being fed. Here were the children of those who had taken that very special oath “… to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” There were the children of those who were part of the “Thin Blue Line,” brave men and women committed to protecting us every day. There were children of firefighters, impeccable men and women of character, devoid of fear, who rush into harm’s way to save others, with no concern for their own lives. We shall never forget their courage as exhibited on 9-11.
So, here we were, gathered, to try and enable these dreamers, these little American angels to be able to soar, mount up on wings like eagles, majestically. We gathered to bring them joy, allow them to rejoice, be loved, and never feel sorrow, as best as we could help it. And yet, during this event, the Governor of Colorado was not in attendance. There were no U.S. Senators or members of the Colorado Congressional House delegation. There were no State Supreme Court Justices. As a matter of fact, there was only one Colorado state representative in attendance, whom I met. His name is Tim Geitner, and he is a U.S. Army Infantryman, an Officer, now in the reserves, but did serve on active duty. He was just elected, but it appears that he knows what right looks like.
Where were all the news cameras and hoopla? Why is it that an organization like Angels of America’s Fallen must undertake the Herculean effort of supporting the dreams of our real American dreamers? I must be honest, I have grown tired of politicians, and others, trying to redefine what is a dreamer in America. I have grown tired of them trying to redefine what compassion means. Our first and foremost level of compassion should go to these kids, whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice, the last full measure of devotion for this nation, our constitutional republic. Their loss is not some “manufactured crisis.” Their loss is what allows us to be in this place, the place we call the “land of the free,” because we shall always be the “home of the brave.”
I am tired of hearing about illegal immigrant families being separated when these young American children will forever be separated from their loved one(s), their Dads or Moms. I wonder if a bill, a piece of legislation was proposed in the U.S. Senate or House to fully fund Angels of America’s Fallen each fiscal year, to the tune of $25 million, would it pass? See, I am tired of all the taxpayer resources we spend on people that have violated the very rule of law that these brave men and women are willing to give their lives to defend – and their children will forever have that empty chair at the table.
It is time we seek out our better Angels, as Abraham Lincoln articulated, and do indeed care for our widows, and those children who have borne the cost of war, and it is time we provide for domestic stability and tranquility.
I know who the real American dreamers are – our little Angels. And I am tired of those elected officials and members of our media, and other activists who try to elevate others above our American children, our Dreamers!
Allen West is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. Mr. West is a Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center to support its mission to expose and neutralize liberal media bias.