***NOTE: The following letter to President Obama was written by Billy and Karen Vaughn, parents of Aaron Carson Vaughn of SEAL Team VI who was killed in action in Afghanistan on 8/6/11. It was originally published on WorldTribune.com 2 weeks ago and is re-printed here with the Vaughns’ permission. Learn more about their story at www.forourson.us.
After finally choosing to view the barbaric, on-camera beheading by ISIS of freelance war correspondent James Foley, I have been left with a level of rage known only to those of us who have sacrificed unspeakable offerings on the altar of world peace.
My offering was my only son — Aaron Carson Vaughn. Aaron was a member of SEAL Team VI. He was killed in action when a CH47D Chinook, carrying thirty Americans and eight Afghans was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.
Many times over the past three years, I have been asked what drove my son to choose his particular career. What made him want to be a Navy SEAL? My answer is simple.
Aaron Vaughn was a man who possessed the courage to acknowledge evil. And evil, once truly acknowledged, demands response. Perhaps this is why so few are willing to look it in the eye. It is much simpler — much safer — to look the other way.
That is, unless you are the leader of the Free World.
As Commander-in-Chief, your actions — or lack thereof — Mr. President, cost lives. As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole — not only in America’s security — but the security of the entire globe. Your message has come across loud and clear, sir: You are not up to this job. You know it. We know it. The world knows it.
Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the reigns of this out-of-control thug-fest and regain the balance we, America, have provided throughout our great history.
Thanks to your “leadership” from whatever multi-million dollar vacation you happen to be on at any given moment, the world is in chaos. What’s been gained, you’ve lost. What’s been lost, you’ve decimated. You’ve demolished our ability to hold the trust of allies. You’ve made a mockery of the title “President.” And you’ve betrayed the nation for which my son and over 1.3 million others have sacrificed their very lives.
But this should come as no surprise, since your wife uttered a vile statement on Feb. 18, 2008, during the primary campaign — one that speaks volumes of your true convictions. “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country,” she said.
I am sure my deceased son thanks you for that, Mrs. Obama. Oh, and you’re welcome.
Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such despair and such growing fear that the world’s last best hope, America, has finally been dismantled. Perhaps the better word is transformed — fundamentally transformed. Come to think of it, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to believe things haven’t gone exactly as you planned, Mr. President.
Amazingly, in five short years, your administration has lurched from one disaster to another. You spearheaded the ambitious rush to end the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan — with no plan on how to do so effectively. Also, the release of “the Taliban five” in exchange for one American — without consulting Congress — is on your shoulders.
You have been at the helm during unprecedented national security leaks — including, but not limited to the outing of SEAL Team VI on the Bin laden raid, the outing of the Pakistani doctor who provided the intelligence for that raid, the outing of Afghanistan’s CIA station chief, and the outing of your personal “kill list” to make you look tough. In addition, 75 percent of American deaths in Afghanistan and 83 percent of Americans-wounded-in-action have occurred on your watch, according to icasualties.org.
And now, we have this recent, heinous event: the beheading of an American citizen by a barbaric organization you foolishly referred to as “the JV team” in your statements to the New Yorker magazine in January.
You, sir, are the JV team. It’s time for you to step down and allow a true leader to restore our honor and protect our sons and daughters.
America has always been exceptional. And she will be again. You, Mr. President, are a bump in our road.
**In this month where we celebrate freedom and independence, many Americans are feeling less free in their everyday lives. A recent Gallop poll found 79 percent of Americans were satisfied with their level of freedom. That was down 12 points from 2006. It’s clear something is very wrong with our perceptions of freedom and liberty. The following is an editorial my father wrote to his local newspaper, The Batavia (NY) Daily News. He wrote this prior to 2009, and it seems even more applicable now.
There were 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-two of them were orthodox, deeply-committed Christians; the other four all believed in the Bible as the Divine Truth. These brave patriots put up their money, property and lives to build this new nation. They were hunted like wild animals; their homes were burned; their property confiscated; their families had to go into hiding and were mistreated if found. If caught, they would hang. Most were homeless, in very poor health and broke by the end of the war. These great patriots were statesmen, not merely politicians. I wonder how our ten percent [approval rating] Congress would act under similar events.
We are losing our freedoms every day. While Americans sleep, [they] wake up long enough to vote these same jokers back into office. From here, some of the worst are appointed to cabinet positions—that is like having the inmates run the asylum. For the readers over 50 [or 55 now], the ones who should remember when we were a God-fearing nation, everything was going our way. We became a great and powerful nation. People from around the world came seeking religious freedom and a better life.
Then in the sixties, we started down the slippery slope to where we are now. In 1962, the Supreme Court restricted prayer in public schools; in 1973 the court found that the so-called “right to privacy” includes unrestricted access to abortion. In 1985 the court overturned a state law setting aside a moment of silence for voluntary prayer in public schools. In 2000, the court overruled a Texas law allowing high school students to pray at athletic events. In 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion because it contains the words “under God”. In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the display of the Ten Commandments in a state courthouse was unconstitutional.
These decisions by a handful of unelected, imperious Justices are determined to control more and more of our private lives, erase our spiritual heritage and forever redefine us as a nation. The Constitution charges Congress with the responsibility to check the Federal Courts; they have totally abdicated that duty. Nationwide, we have high courts—an unaccountable arrogant judiciary appointed for life–determined to make us dance to their music.
P.S. : “Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fall, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”—U.S. Sen. Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
**NOTE: The following is an article by Sophia Lee, a recently naturalized American citizen, and is an inspiring story of her road to citizenship.
Used by permission | © WORLD magazine, all rights reserved | www.worldmag.com.
The morning I became a U.S. citizen, I stood between a well-groomed Vietnamese woman and a rotund Mexican man. In front of me, an Armenian with a ponytail raised his point-and-shoot camera. Behind me, a Korean young lady in heels texted rapidly into her iPhone.
“Congratulations,” announced a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer after the Pledge of Allegiance. “You’ve made it this far.” We were among the 2,176 people of all skin colors, sizes, and ages who raised a right hand to swear loyalty and service to this country at a ceremony in Pomona, Calif., earlier this year.
It felt like a graduation ceremony in that packed stadium of flushed cheeks and enthusiastic whoops. But instead of tossing graduation caps, we waved plastic flags of stars and banners over our heads: After about 10 long years, we’d all finally earned the certificate that grants us the right to proudly declare: “I am an American.”
For us naturalized citizens, being an American isn’t a privilege. It’s a blessing. I say that because eligibility for citizenship follows a long list of qualifications beyond man’s will. As a single, non-military, non-refugee 25-year-old permanent resident, I had to apply for my own citizenship. (Eligibility for permanent residency—or a green card status—is a whole other long, costly process barricaded with tons more checkpoints).
Becoming an American citizen requires lots of patience—and money. Five years after I received my green card (which cost more than $1,000), I filled out and slow-mailed an application form called Form N-400 to the USCIS, together with a $680 check for filing fees.
In that 10-page N-400 form, I had to prove that (1) I lived consistently as a permanent resident in the United States for five years, (2) I lived in my current state for at least three months, and (3) that I was a person of good moral character (no felonies, no terrorist intentions, you get the idea).
About four months later, the USCIS mailed me a thin letter stamped with a date and time for me to show up at the nearest USCIS office for fingerprints. The biometric appointment was pain-free—I was in and out within 20 minutes. Then I waited for two months while the FBI did a run-through of my fingerprints to make sure my background was as clean as I claimed.
The second appointment for an interview took longer. I waited three hours in a crowded waiting room, staring bleary-eyed at a television that replayed—what seemed to my cranky mood at the time—American propaganda. I cracked open a Snickers bar for lunch, dozed off, and then awoke to a USCIS officer calling out my name.
The interview itself flashed by in 10 minutes. I swore that I would tell nothing but the truth, so help me God, and then gave quick “no” answers to questions like “Have you participated in terrorist activities?” and “Did you ever use illegal drugs?”
The officer tested my English skills—I had to write out a dictated sentence—and civics knowledge: “How many amendments does the Constitution have?” My verbal/written skills and moral character must have satisfied the officer, as I got a grant of approval from the USCIS within two weeks, including a schedule for my oath swearing.
And just like that, I became a hyphenated American during a hotbed period of illegal immigration policy discussions. As I waved my flag in the air, I couldn’t help thinking about some of my friends who aren’t as blessed.
For all the despairing talk about America’s draining economy and dismal future, it’s still today’s Rome. A U.S. citizenship guarantees precious rights and benefits denied to much of the world’s population. Whatever reasons immigrants—illegal or lawful—move to the United States, we all share a common desire for an opportunity at something better.
As a person straddling three cultures, I used to pause when somebody asked me what I am. But now I can unhesitatingly answer that I’m an American—albeit an American with a British-Canto Singaporean accent and a 10-pound jar of kimchi in the fridge.
Only in the U.S.A. God bless America!