Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saluting Our Stellar Examples

Saluting Our Stellar Examples
By Chuck Norris

According to The Associated Press, Todd Weaver's idea of a romantic gift was not jewelry, roses or mushy cards. He preferred unique fancy gifts, for example, the time he celebrated the 21st birthday of his wife, Emma, by taking her skydiving.

The AP went on to say that Todd and Emma met in high school in Virginia. He was a popular baseball and football star. Right before leaving for a tour of duty in Iraq via his service in the National Guard, he ran outside in the rain in his socks to give Emma a kiss goodbye.

After Todd returned from his tour, the couple were inseparable. Todd joined the ROTC while attending the College of William & Mary. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2008. Todd and Emma married and had a beautiful daughter, Kiley, who was only 9 months old when her father left for his second deployment to Afghanistan.

On Sept. 9, 2010, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver, 26, who was assigned to 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky., died serving his country in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Weaver was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

WTKR in Williamsburg, Va., reported that since Todd was killed in action last September, his widow, Emma, and his parents, Don and Jeanne Weaver, have been seeking to preserve his memory and sacrifice by raising money for a memorial scholarship in his name at William & Mary, an award that will fund a study abroad trip for a student every year. So far, they have raised $40,000 of the $50,000 needed to endow the scholarship.

It chaps my hide when people today belittle our military or say America doesn't have young people who display the brazen courage of men of old when our service members continue willfully to place themselves in harm's way and defend freedom to the point of death.

Last year, my wife, Gena, and I visited West Point, where the thousands of young cadets blew us away with how ready and eager they were to serve their country. And who can overlook the guts and nerve of our Navy SEALs as they took down Osama bin Laden? Beyond all these are the hundreds of thousands of patriots since America's founding like Todd Weaver, who literally have given up their very lives for their country and our freedom.

Each Memorial Day, we honor and commemorate all of our fallen warriors. The day holds a special meaning for all of us, and for the families of the fallen, it provides a profoundly proud yet painful remembrance.

My father fought and was wounded in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. I served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. I am also an honorary Marine. My brother Aaron served in the U.S. Army in Korea. And our brother, Wieland, served in the U.S. Army, as well, in Vietnam, where he paid the ultimate price on June 3, 1970. (His name is etched among the 58,000 fallen service members on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.) Wieland was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with "V" device (first oak leaf cluster) for his heroism Aug. 27, 1970.

The official correspondence about the award from Adjutant General Thomas E. Minix details Wieland's heroism in this way: "For heroism in ground combat against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam on 3 June 1970. Private Norris distinguished himself while serving as assistant machine gunner in Company A, 2d Battalion (Airmobile), 506th Infantry, during combat operations near Fire Support Base Ripcord, Republic of Vietnam. When his platoon made contact with an enemy reconnaissance team, Private Norris volunteered to walk in the lead position to inspect the area after the enemy was engaged by aerial rocket artillery. Approaching the top of a hill, he noticed two hostile soldiers waiting in ambush. Private Norris immediately shouted a warning to his fellow soldiers, drawing the hostile fire to himself, mortally wounding him. His alertness prevented the insurgents from inflicting numerous casualties on his platoon. Private Norris' personal bravery and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."

On the day Wieland sacrificed his own life, I lost my best friend and brother, and the hearts of my mother and my other brother, Aaron, and my own were torn in two. That day, we unwillingly joined the ranks of those families of fallen warriors.

It has been 41 years since my brother left for his heavenly home, and we miss him and are as proud of him today as we were back then. This Memorial Day week (which concludes with the anniversary of his death), we again honor and commemorate his sacrifice and courage, along with all our other valiant patriots.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver and my brother Pvt. Wieland Clyde Norris are just two stellar examples of hundreds of thousands of fallen warriors who are worthy of our thanks and honor. They all serve not only as our heroes but also as reminders that our liberties and republic are worth fighting for.

About such patriots, Gen. George S. Patton was right: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived."

To read another article by Chuck Norris, click here.

Chuck Norris Biography...

Chuck Norris is one of the most enduringly popular actors in the world. Chuck Norris has starred in more than 20 major motion pictures. Chuck Norris's television series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” which … read morecompleted its run in April 2001 after eight full seasons, is the most successful Saturday night series on CBS since “Gunsmoke.” It is seen in more than 80 countries worldwide, ranking as one of the top U.S. shows in both sales and audience.

A New York Times best-selling author of two books, including the 2004 autobiographical “Against All Odds,” Chuck Norris also has penned two books of fiction. Set in the Old West, the most recent installment of this series, “A Threat to Justice,” was published in September 2007. In 2006, Chuck Norris added the title of columnist to his illustrious list of credits with the launch of his popular Internet column on the independent news site WorldNetDaily.com. Norris’ commentaries have become so widely read that he was signed recently by Los Angeles-based Creators Syndicate to market his column to newspapers across the country. Among the leading commentators Creators Syndicate represents are Robert Novak, Mike Luckovich and Bill O'Reilly.

Chuck Norris first made his mark as a renowned teacher of martial arts and was a six-time undefeated world middleweight karate champion. Chuck Norris is the first man from the Western Hemisphere in the more than 4,500-year tradition of tae kwon do to be awarded an eighth-degree black belt grand master ranking. By the 1970s, Norris had completely revolutionized martial arts in the United States and was in the process of taking this exciting individual sport to a new level by transitioning it into a team event, when he was faced with a career choice: continue to build upon the team combat martial arts format he had pioneered or commit himself to a film acting career.

After starring in films such as “Delta Force” and “Missing in Action,” as well as writing the original screenplays for a number of his box-office hits, it is clear acting, writing and producing was the right choice.

Fortunately for martial arts enthusiasts, Chuck Norris did not forsake his vision of elevating his sport to a regional competitive team event like the NBA or NFL. In 2005, he launched the World Combat League. This professional combat martial arts league currently consists of eight teams representing two divisions, and it is now in its second season. It airs on the Versus television network.

Chuck Norris is a man of deep religious convictions and a giving spirit. Among his more rewarding accomplishments is the creation in of his KICKSTART program in 1992, which began in Houston, teaching 150 at-risk children martial arts as part of the physical education curriculum. Since that time, this program, which instills discipline and respect and raises self-esteem, serves more than 5,000 youngsters year round at 35 schools in Dallas and Houston. To date, KICKSTART has served more than 40,000 students, with many going on to college and becoming successful in their own right. Proceeds from his books, as well as his World Combat League, go to support this life-skills nonprofit foundation.

An in-demand public speaker, Chuck Norris has served as a spokesman for agencies such as the United Way and Veterans Affairs. Additional honors include Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Celebrity Wish Granter of the Year, the Veteran Foundation’s Veteran of the Year Award and the Jewish Humanitarian Man of the Year Award. In April 2007, Marine Gen. James T. Conway named Norris an honorary member of the Marine Corps, in recognition of his two “handshake” tours of our troops in Iraq within a one-year period. Also this year, leading strategic brand-licensing firm Brand Sense Partners will release a line of clothing called “C Force,” chronicling the legendary star and humanitarian’s remarkable career. Among the firm’s other clients are Dodge, Electronic Arts, MGM and Sheryl Crow.

A genuine Internet phenomenon, Chuck Norris has become the subject of countless Paul Bunyan-type fictional “facts” of his exploits, submitted by fans. There are currently more than 600,000 such “facts” floating around the Internet, with one “fact”-generating site receiving as many as 18 million visits a month. The larger-than-life image of Chuck Norris, based on his latest form of popularity, also has been featured in commercials for Mountain Dew and Honda.

Chuck Norris and his wife, Gena, have a home in Dallas and a ranch near Houston, where they divide their time, along with their 6-year-old twins, Dakota and Dani Lee.

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