Oliver North – Liberty University Convocation


>>DAVID NASSER: Obviously our honored and
distinguished guest today needs no introduction. He’s a very decorated marine, number one selling
New York Times author, one of the greatest–Colonel was telling me backstage that no school has
bought more of his books, no university has bought more of his books than Liberty University
and I think that’s an affirmation that he’s at home today. And so we’re honored to have
him. I could tell you on and on about just the heroic ways that this man has served our
nation, the champion that he continues to be for Liberty, the champion that he continues
to be for our men and women in the armed forces, the voice that he continues to be for them.
But more than anything else what I love is that he is a true American. He is the father
of four, he is the husband of one, and – wanted to clarify that – and he’s the grandfather
of 13 – 14 now – I’m sorry – 14 and two-thirds. And so can we just honor our distinguished
guest today, the great Colonel North, the grandfather of fourteen and two-thirds.>>OLIVER NORTH: Thank you, David. Thank you.
Thank you very much. It is great to be back. I’ve got a timer out here and marines try
to start on time and try to finish on time so I’m going to do my best to make sure that
you don’t miss any classes. “Gee, thanks.” It is a privilege to be here. FOX News gave
me the option of being here with you or being in Erbil, Iraq and I am really glad to be
in Lynchburg at Liberty. I can’t tell you how much. Some of you know there was an election
yesterday; I hope you all voted if you’re a Republican. There goes the 51C3 status right
there. Boom, gone. I am humbled by the opportunity to receive the George Rogers Champion of Freedom
award. George, for those of you who don’t know him, I’ve had the great honor of meeting
him several times. He is a real American hero. He was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.
When he was leading the Old-Time Gospel Hour he frequently reminded people that the reason
he survived and came out of that camp at eighty-five pounds having gone in as a soldier in the
United States Army, taller than I am, six-two, and healthy, he came out at eighty-five pounds
and he says he survived because his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wanted him to. That’s
a hero. I met him here first at Liberty University in 1988 at a graduation ceremony. At the time
he was the CEO of Old-Time Gospel Hour and he went on to lead. He’s now ninety-two and
he did so remarkably over those years and what a great inspiration to every soldier,
sailor, airman, guardsman, and marine. I am unworthy to stand in George Roger’s shoes
or his boots, but he and all those of you who have served in our armed forces, those
of you who are spouses of those who have served are the reasons I’m here today. Before I go
further, because I am on television it is time for a commercial thank you for making
FOX News number one so that I’ve got a job. The American people made it happen. I’ve now
been with FOX for fourteen years; I have also learned that not every American watches FOX
News twenty-four seven like they’re supposed to. I was stranded in the Indianapolis Airport
a few weeks back and the flights were all delayed, there was a fire or something in
Chicago and it was six or seven hour delays, it’s the middle of the night, there’s a thousand
plus unhappy people in the airport. A gentleman walks over to me–I’m wearing a baseball hat
and sunglasses at midnight, trying to find a place to charge my cell phone, and there’s
a lot of really unhappy people there–and this gentleman walks up to me and he says,
“I know who you are.” “Please.” He said, “No, I loved”–past tense–“loved watching you
on television. And that book you wrote about World War II”–and I’ve actually done two
of them–“that book made me cry on every page. Can I have your autograph, Mr. Brokaw?” Apparently
I’m not wearing enough makeup, and so I took out–being a smart aleck, FOX News gives us
these cards to hand out for autographs so you don’t have to tear out napkins–and I
took out one of the cards, flipped it over, and said, “What’s your name, sir?” He said,
“Phil.” And I wrote, “Phil, all the best. Tom” and handed him the card. I’m feeling
pretty smug about my smart aleckness at that point and he looks up from the card, gets
a little tear in his eye and says, “I’m the only happy person in this airport.” Now I
feel like absolute–awful. So since I’m with a bunch of youngsters studying everything
from physics to theology I will lay this before you: what is the right thing to do at that
point? Should I tell him, “Hey, I’m really not Tom Brokaw. I’m better looking,” whatever.
What do you do? I’ll answer this later on for you, I’ll tell you what my wife told me
when I got home. I want to speak, if I may, just very quickly
about the exceptionalism of America. I first came to this college when it was a college,
not a university. You could put the entire student body in one of these aisles, and it’s
now grown to be one of the greatest universities on the planet earth. And that’s a great tribute
to those who had the vision and the leadership to do that. I get to spend time, day-in and
day-out–my only beat for FOX News is soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, marines, and law-enforcement,
so I get to keep company with real heroes. In fact, it’s been my life. My dad was a hero,
my mom and dad met at a USO Dance in 1941. The USO, as some of you may not know, was
actually founded by the Salvation Army. And they met at what had to be one of the first
dances. She was a schoolteacher; he was a second lieutenant in the United States Army.
By the time I was born in 1943 in San Antonio, Texas, he was gone. Some Texans out there!
“Y’all.” And I grew up surrounded by uncles who’d served in the US Marines in the Pacific
theatre of World War II. All of my uncles, all my – everybody I knew served in either
the Vietnam – excuse me, served in either World War II or Korea or both, and all my
brothers served in the military. Not because we had to but because we had role models in
our lives that just left you with that expectation that that’s what you were going to do. Being a role model is the most important thing
you can be. When you graduate from this great institution, you’re going to take with you
the experience of all these faculties, the faculty and the staff, the administration,
the vision that made this university great. And you are going to be able to show someone
else how to lead. You can’t just tell them. You have to show them. The only way to lead
is by being upfront, and the best way to lead is to set the example. You got to walk the
walk, you can’t just talk the talk. FOX News gives me the opportunity to tell those kinds
of stories to youngsters and let them tell their stories, that’s my job. Let them tell
the stories without telling the bad guys things they don’t need to know. And so in 57 embeds
that I’ve done for FOX News -when our then fourteenth grandchild was being born, David
– FOX producers, my guys that go with me overseas, put together a little clip so that I can explain
to my grandchildren where I’ve been while they were celebrating birthdays. Here’s just
a snippet from 57 embeds of what they look like. Now, dial the volume down on this thing
so we don’t blow everybody out, but if you’ve got that, Bobby, go ahead and spool it up
and let’s see if we–these are remarkable young Americans. They are the kinds of folks
that come from every walk of life and country. This footage was shot in the Hindu Kush, in
Mesopotamia, in the Philippines. 2.4 million young Americans have now served in this war.
And this just shows just a very brief sample of what they do. The adversaries that they
face are tenacious, brutal, often suicidal, more akin to what my uncles faced in the Pacific
Theater than what my dad saw in the European Theater in World War II. There is no military
force in the world as competent, capable, or as combat-experienced as those serving
in our military today. And most importantly, for the very first time since the American
Revolution, every single American serving in uniform in this very long war is a volunteer.
It never happened in between the Revolution and now, and they are all volunteers, every
one of them. They either came or they stayed and they became the best military force on
the planet. Unfortunately, my colleagues–not as much
at FOX News, but elsewhere in the media – are vicious oftentimes, and so are politicians.
They beat on Abu Ghraib like it was a rented mule that Newsweek Magazine created, a totally
fictitious story about a Quran being flushed down a toilet in Guantanamo, and I was in
Iraq when that happened. That story came out and I watched thousands of people die as a
consequence of a story that was completely false. Took three weeks for Newsweek to acknowledge
that it was false. We had a United States senator describe those who serve in our Armed
Forces as likened to Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot, the butcher of Cambodia. We have a Pulitzer
Prize recipient at the New York Times, he also writes for the Washington Compost, who
describes those serving in our military as quote, “Nothing but poor kids from Mississippi,
Texas, and Alabama who couldn’t get a decent job or health insurance, so they joined the
military because that’s all we offered them.” I got news for you, Mr. Hedges: you’re dead
wrong about those who serve in our military. Here’s a few frames of what I have learned
from them in those 57 embeds overseas. First of all, they came and joined the military
because of what you see on the screen right now. As recently as two weeks ago, I was asking,
“Why did you join the military?” and the youngsters all said the same thing, even though some
of them were in grade school or younger when those towers went down. The average age of
a person coming into the military today is 20 and a half years of age. They’re all, at
minimum, high school graduates. Most of them have 13 and a half years of education – meaning
a year plus of after-high-school. They’re more likely to be married than any other military
force we’ve ever seen before. They go to work wearing an eight-pound Kevlar helmet, a 42-pound
flack jacket. They put 50 to 75 pounds on their back, and they can use the most sophisticated
weapons and equipment ever designed by the hand and mind of man. They can use their weapons
like part of their body and they can use their bodies like weapons, and they can take a life
or save one because they’re so remarkably well trained. A youngster who once wouldn’t
share a candy bar with his little brother will now give away his last drop of water
to a wounded comrade; he’ll give his only MRE to a hungry Afghan kid and split his ammo
with his mates in a fire fight because they both need ammo. They become the protectors
of Muslim women and children in a part of the world where that’s a strange idea. Their
responsibility and accountability exceed that of the CEO of any corporation in America,
and when you see them gather in a prayer circle like this they are not getting ready to go
out on a football field. I dare the American Civil Liberties Union to tell these government
employees, “Stop praying on government time.” I was at Arlington Cemetery yesterday morning
for a ceremony to inter one of my friends, and I look at those youngsters – if you go
back to that last slide, just pull that one back up just for a moment. This is a little
bit of footage taken of a United States Navy Corpsman. It’s a remarkable young guy. He’s
six-feet-four-inches tall; the unit I’m with – it’s the sixth of April 2003 – has just
been ambushed by a republican guard’s regiment, and Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines,
is the lead element of the Marine attack toward Baghdad which is the smoke you can see in
the background. The corpsman rushed – by the way, not “corpse-man.” “Corpsman” – the corpsman
rushes out on the battlefield and starts picking up wounded Marines and bringing them to the
helicopter that’s now landed on the tarmac. This is the fourth casualty. The first three
were Marines. If you look carefully at that slide – that’s a frame from the footage on
my helmet cam – that’s not a wounded marine he’s carrying. That is a wounded Iraqi republican
guardsman. He’s gone on the battlefield, put battle dressings on him, and carries him on
his back to the helicopter because it’s the right thing to do. Unbeknownst to me, cause
I can’t see it – I’m now looking through both my helmet cam and a mini cam that I’ve got
in my hand – I don’t see the Reuters news crew rush up and start tracking what this
corpsman is doing. The crew chief starts to yell, “The helicopter’s taking fire! We’re
going to have more causalities, and we’ve got to take off,” so I’m running now behind
the corpsman back into the gun fight as he’s going back to save more wounded guys, and
the Reuters news crew shouts out, and you can hear it loud and clear on the microphone
I’ve got wedged in my flack jacket, and the microphone he’s got in his: “Hey, mate! What
did you do that for? Didn’t you notice that was an Iraqi?” In other words, “You stupid
American!” And the corpsman – because this is polite company and I’ve got two generals
and a chaplain here I can only put it this way – the corpsman gives a gesture to Reuters
news crew. He gives a gesture to the Reuters news crew and then he shouts and, unfortunately,
he used several expletives, which I will also leave out because we’d have used it on air
if he hadn’t. He shouts back at them, “Didn’t you notice” – expletive, expletive – “he was
wounded? That’s what we do; we’re Americans.” What a great message. The level of commitment
that has been made in this way is extraordinary. We’ve not seen this, at least in my lifetime
– maybe my parents did – the greatest generation that Tom Brokaw really did write about, and
he described that greatest generation just as what it was: the greatest. Sixteen and
a half million men and women in uniform, the population of the country’s less than a 180,000,000.
It said, and I believe it to be true, every American over the age of 10 knew the name
of someone serving in the military. Gold-star families were legion. And so, the commitment
being made today by less than a million on active duty, less than 800,000 in the Guard
Reserve, is extraordinary. At the funeral service yesterday in Arlington, the chaplain
told me they will do 30 interment ceremonies a day, as long as the weather holds. What’s
that tell you? It tells you that that greatest generation’s passing away. It tells you that
the commitment level made by those in this generation is extraordinary. I brought with
me a few frames – runs about 40 seconds – that I shot last summer out in Afghanistan. What
you’re about to see on the screen is a United States Marine Captain by the name of Matt
Lampert. Matt Lampert is on his second combat tour. We did not put this on FOX News and
you will see why in just a moment. When I say the word “commitment,” I want you to think
in the future about Matt Lampert.>>VIDEO: My name is Captain Matt Lampert.
This is my second combat deployment to Afghanistan, and I just wish the American people would
understand that there’s a lot of people here that still believe in what we’re doing out
here, and are willing to come back again and again to prove that point.>>NORTH: Matt Lampert commands a Special
Operations Company. That was shot at Leatherneck Bastion, the biggest base in southern Afghanistan.
Just a few months ago this week, that base was closed and there are no Marine combat
units left, especially operations units. But that’s a level of commitment. The producers
in New York decided that was simply too graphic to show the American people. I want you to
understand what Matt Lampert represents. Matt Lampert represents the best and bravest of
this generation. His lovely wife is a Marine helicopter pilot, and Matt Lampert lost both
legs in his first combat tour, and he’s now back on his second. That’s commitment. Some
of my colleagues don’t know how to measure commitment like that, and so they’re critical.
I like to remind them that if you can’t figure out what a hero is then you probably don’t
belong in the business of reporting the news. Cause you see a hero isn’t someone who wears
a spandex suit and a cape. It’s not someone who catches the pass in the end zone, even
when Liberty’s beating Notre Dame. It’s not the person who climbs a mountain and sets
a new record. A hero is a person who puts themself at risk for the benefit of others,
and that includes their families, which are now being targeted by the same terrorist organization
that is crucifying Christians in the land that Paul once walked and built churches.
And so the commitment necessary today is going to be filled by those who understand that
we have treated our veterans right. And so those of you who’ve already served and come
here to get a great education, remind your classmates, remind your fellow students, of
the nature of commitment. That’s not bragging; that’s special. I want to just close with a brief clip from
the president that I was blessed to serve. This was put together by the folks that run
my foundation that provides the track chairs and the homes and the college scholarships
for the youngsters who’ve lost a parent serving in the line of duty. This is remarkable because
the president that I was blessed to serve spoke from the heart, not a teleprompter.
And so this is what Ronald Reagan thought of America’s heroes.>>RONALD REAGAN: If we look to the answer
as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth,
it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to
a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual
have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price
for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price.
Those who say that we’re in a time where there are no heroes, they just don’t know where
to look. The sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple
white markers bearing crosses or stars of David, they add up to only a tiny fraction
of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each one of those markers is a monument to
the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Bella Wood, the
Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and half way around the world on Guadalcanal, Pork Chop
Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice patties and jungles of a place called
Vietnam. Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a
small-town barbershop in 1917, to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There on
the Western Front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy
artillery fire. We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf, under the
heading “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore
I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and
do my utmost as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.” We must realize
that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will
and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world
do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who
practice terrorism and pray upon their neighbors. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are
potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the
American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it, we will not surrender for
it now or ever. We are Americans.>>NORTH: What a remarkable privilege it was
to serve that president as closely as I did. I learned an awful lot about myself and about
what America was all about just by listening and watching. My challenge for you here today
is: if you make commitments, keep them. If you surround yourself with the kind of people
that I’ve been blessed to be around, who will admonish you and encourage you, who will hold
you to the standard that’s in the Good Book, then you will be blessed, ‘cause those with
whom you keep company will define who you are. If you associate with those who serve
others, whether it’s in battlefields or business or in a pulpit, it’s a lot easier to look
yourself in the mirror in the morning if you understand what your real legacy is supposed
to be. You must know where you are going and why you are going there, and be unashamed
to say so. You must show others, not just tell others, that you believe that. And so
when I get asked, like I was yesterday at that interment ceremony at Arlington by a
widow, grieving, and their children, what is it I want to be? I want to be remembered
by those who love me most: my wife, my four children, their mates, and now our fourteen
and two-thirds grandchildren, that I was the one who showed them how to fight the fight,
how to finish the race, and how to keep the faith. It’s not something that I want them
to have to learn because I told them. I want them to say that I showed them how to do that,
and if you don’t understand what I mean about knowing where you are going and why you are
going there, then I suggest you need to find someone with whom you can keep company who
does know that. The faculty here is full of it. My good friend, Major Bob Dees, knows
of that. He writes and teaches about the resilience of a leader, and part of that resilience of
being a leader is showing people the right way to do things. I’ll leave you with one last thought: showing
people how to do it is a lot easier and better than just telling people. If you think back
to how you learned to tie your shoes, it was because someone knelt down in front of you
and showed you how to do it. They didn’t put a diagram up on a screen; they didn’t do a
PowerPoint presentation on it. They knelt down in an act akin to what Jesus did on Holy
Thursday. Think about it: He kneels down and He washes His disciples’ feet in an act of
absolute humility. He’s their leader. He washes their feet and tells them to go and do the
same for others, that the leaders are going to be the followers and that that act, very
similar to someone who loved you kneeling in front of you and showing you how to tie
your shoes, is perhaps the most vivid example we have in our lives today. And oh, yeah,
I told you I’d tell you what my wife said when I brought that card home. She said, “Oliver,
you’re a jerk. That poor man is going to get home, take it out, and show his wife, and
he’s going to say, ‘Look, Tom Brokaw!’ and then he’s going to look at the back of the
card and see your name on it. And he’s going to wonder why Tom Brokaw’s carrying around
Ollie North’s FOX News cards.” Don’t make that mistake. Don’t be mistaken for something
you’re not. Don’t be confused for something you’d like to be. Go forth and do it. God
bless you and thank you for having me here.

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