Pvt. Steele is an Effigy of Vigilance. He hangs on a church in
France, a symbol of his willingness to die to liberate a land from the
Beast of Terror. In Iraq, there is another Effigy of Vigilance.
It is the bed where Pvt. Jessica Lynch was held captive by Saddam
Hussein's soldiers. As D-Day approaches, we need to all
salute the Effigies of Vigilance.
5, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 631
American Hangs In Effigy Of
Vigilance In France
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, New York--June 5,
2003-- John Steele hangs in effigy in Ste. Mere Eglise, France.
He hangs on a small parish church, a symbol not of the rift or
friction between the U.S. and France, but instead as a Sentinel of
Vigilance, one of tens of thousands of Americans who offered their
lives to free France from the Beast of Terror.
The church in
Sainte Mere Elise is situated in the "Place du 6 Juin" where
Pvt. John Steele hangs in effigy
Today, amidst acerbic
comments and angst between France and the United States over the lack
of France's support of the Iraq war, John Steele hangs 24 hours a day
on the steeple of the small village church in Ste Mere Eglise, current
population 1,585, where 13,000 airborne soldiers dropped from the sky
on the early morning of June 6, as part of the D-Day invasion 59 years
ago that liberated France from the grips of Nazi German invaders.
Private Steele, famous because of the movie The
Longest Day, leaped from one of 880 transport planes at 01.30
(military hours 1:30 a.m.) on June 6, 1944. Unfortunately,
a vast majority of the 82nd Airborne troops didn't land on intended
targets, but were scattered over the countryside.
Private Steele's parachute came down on the
church steeple as parts of the village burned, illuminating him and
other paratroopers who found themselves exposed to German defenders.
According to reports, Steele frantically tried to
cut his parachute shrouds but the knife slipped from his hands.
Below, he witnessed his fellow paratroopers being shot as they hung
from telephone poles or landed amidst German troops.
Germans below Steele shot him in the foot.
Steele feigned he was dead, slumping in the harness. He
hung from the church rooftop for two hours, located near the belfry.
The church bells rang loudly, signaling the invasion.
Steele was deafened by the continuous ringing. He watched in
horror as his fellow soldiers were executed as they became entangled.
Eventually, he was cut down by German soldiers,
captured, then as American troops overran the village, was freed.
Steele died in 1969.
To memorialize the
dramatic and emotional event of France's liberation from Hitler's
tyranny, two U.S. airborne museums and an American war cemetery are
located nearby. At Colville-sur-Mer, the graves of 9,386
U.S. soldiers, plus another 1,000 who are not identified, remind the
people of St. Mere Eglise and the world of the sacrifice America made
that day to allow France the right to freedom.
That freedom includes the right to reject
supporting America in a war against Iraq. It is the same freedom
that allows American citizens the right to disagree with its
government, and to speak out against issues they oppose.
Despite all the polemics of war, there is
no question that in the long run--when measured in relation to the
benefits of the Children's Children's Children--three generations from
any event, a total of nearly 100 years--that when despotic behavior
and tyrannical, brutal leadership is quashed, freedom of various
degrees sprout from the turmoil.
Germany's defeat in WWII was its ultimate
victory. Today, the German state is strong, viable, proud.
So is France's.
On one side of
the Korea's DMZ freedom prevails while on the other side
poverty is rampant
South Korea stands
today as a symbol of what freedom has offered citizens of that divided
country, while just across the DMZ, the other half of that nation
boils grass to eat as its despotic leader wallows in a Playboy
lifestyle, and threatens the world with a thirst to manufacture
Even Vietnam, a war lost, is a victory of
Slowly, that nation is changing, becoming
more and more a part of a world of peace and freedom, and while still
ruled by a central government that uses force to restrain its
citizen's rights, is beginning to become more democratic, more
integrated with the world of "liberation."
In a way, we could hang effigies of Pvt.
Steele from the roofs of countless edifices around the world, symbols
of America's willingness--despite all its international and domestic
critics--to spill its blood for the right of others to be free.
Iraq's Pvt. Steele was Pvt. Jessica Lynch,
the 19-year-old woman soldier who was wounded and captured by Iraqi's
in the early stages of the war, then rescued by Special Operations
forces from an enemy hospital.
Tomorrow is the official 59th Anniversary
of D-Day. In a way, it is improperly named. It
should be renamed Vigilance Day.
Americans plus other allies dedicated
to securing the freedom of the oppressed, offered their lives for
people of other lands so that one day they might be free from the
Beast of Terror's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
Steele was Pvt. Jessica Lynch
pundits attack America's unilateral action against Saddam Hussein.
Many are seeking to soil the blood soaked in Iraqi's sands by American
and allied forces as violating international law by using Weapons of
Mass Destruction (WMD) as a gambit to attack and destroy one of the
world's worse tyrannical leaders. They attempt to
undercut the value and veracity of the United States to fight against
the Beast of Terror.
One might think they were allies of
the Beast, Monday quarterbacking the reasons why we shouldn't have
freed more 27 million people from such leadership while justifying
their own Complacency, their own resolute selfishness to avoid
confrontation with the Beast.
Perhaps these people should make a
trip to the small French village of St. Mere Eglise and stand under
the figure of Pvt. Steele and stare up at his body hanging from the
roof of the church.
Then, perhaps they ought to go to the
Iraqi hospital where Pvt. Jessica Lynch was held captive, and stare at
the empty bed where she lay broken and wounded, suffering God-knows
Of course, there are the
shocking and horrible pictures of the Americans held captive by the
Iraqis--young men and women of different colors, ethnicity, religious
and cultural beliefs, but all bound to a single understanding that
freedom is not cheap.
Sometimes, it cost one's life.
As the D-Day Anniversary approaches,
perhaps we all need to think in terms of the Principles of Vigilance.
Perhaps we need to think in terms of Pvt.
Steele and Pvt. Lynch, and look up at young Americans willing to go
tens of thousands of miles to die for others' right to be free, their
right to protest, their right to reject or embrace thoughts and
beliefs of their own without threat of being killed or shot because of
Vigilance is all about Courage,
Conviction and Right Actions in behalf of the Children's Children's
Children. It is about looking ahead to the future of the
world, and finding ways to remove the threats of tyranny from not only
our own children's doorsteps, but from the doorsteps of the future
Even if Iraq is a mess in many ways
today after its liberation, one thing is not a mess. The
citizens of Iraq have the right to protest, to argue, to express their
likes or dislikes without fear of being shot. The most
exciting part of the Iraqi liberation was the first public protest of
its citizens against American "occupation."
Iraq men hold
anti-American banners while demonstrating against U.S. and
thousands of Iraqi Muslims marched through Baghdad.
weeks before, had the citizens of Iraq walked down the streets
protesting Saddam Hussein's prisons, or his son's wanton rape and
torture of citizens, they would be mulch, fertilizing the sand dunes,
or, stretched on torture racks in some dank prison.
Today, they can rant and rave and
shout and stomp and do everything any citizen of any free country can
But, they owe that right to people
like Pvt. Steele and Pvt. Lynch.
So, when they walk their children to
school, and tell the tales of their country history, hopefully there
will be an effigy not unlike the one France has, of an American or
other ally hanging from some edifice, willing to give his or her life
so that the children might enjoy freedom.
Maybe, hopefully, those who
appreciate the rights of others will take the Pledge of Vigilance, and
through its Principles, be willing to become an Effigy of Vigilance,
not only for their children and their nation, but for all children and
4--Carcass of Complacency: Saddam Hussein's Legacy
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