For 18 straight years, Frank Gaffney’s Security Policy Center in Washington, D.C. has handed out its “Keeper of the Flame” award to a person deemed by the famous watchdog group for America’s security to best represent the ideals of a modern day patriot.
In 1990, my father, Ronald Reagan’s first U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, was given the first such honor and our family shall always hold it, as he himself did, as one of Cap’s most prized possessions.
This year the award went to a person I never thought in my youth was worthy: Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT). But times have changed. Joe Lieberman, even though small in physical stature, has grown into a giant of a man.
To an audience of several hundred of the most dedicated supporters and defenders of America in the Great Hall at Union Station in Washington, Senator Lieberman gave one of the finest speeches I have had the privilege of hearing and believe me, I have, over the course of fifty plus years, heard a ton of them, and some from the very best of our era.
Speaking from his heart and in simple and direct language Senator Lieberman said that we must learn to recognize evil and call it simply for what it is in the world. He spoke of the many great Presidents in both political parties who had the courage to stand-up for what is right regardless, or even in spite of, what was considered politically correct at the time.
He said that in order for America to survive we must be willing to put down the threats to it when we clearly identify them and that we should waste no time after that in so doing. He correctly pointed out that partisan politics must end at America’s shores and that the preservation of our democracy needs to always come above one’s party affiliation.
And the Senator should know. He had the courage in the last election to run, even after he was defeated in the Democratic primary. In November his diligence paid off and he squeaked through to enter his fourth term in the Senate, as an Independent, by a mere 100,000 votes.
His own party basically disowned him because he would not bend to their pressure on softening on issues of national defense and security. Often several of his former fellow Democrats called the conflict in Iraq “George Bush’s war.” “That is utter nonsense,” the Senator said. “it is America’s war…It is a long and miserable conflict,” he said, “but it must be fought and it must be won…I commend the President for staying the course in Iraq” because a democratic Middle East, as Joe Lieberman knows is essential to America’s liberty.
As his website points out, “Senator Lieberman is one of Congress’s most influential voices on security issues. He was the Senate’s leading champion of legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security to better protect the nation from terrorist attacks. He has been at the forefront of efforts not only to increase our investment in defense, but to transform our armed forces to better meet the threats of the 21st Century. Senator Lieberman has been a strong and consistent advocate for using America’s military might – most recently to disarm Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq – to defend America’s interests and values when they are seriously endangered.”
The Senator admitted to being a “closet” Reagan Democrat during the Reagan years, but his actions now are fully in the light and they are fully and completely in defense of America. He sees the threats where so many of his Senate colleagues see only a limited set of foreign problems that they feel if simply “negotiated” will dry up and go away. Or even worse, the views of the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) that we simply “admit defeat,” surrender and go home.
A self-deprecating man, Joe Lieberman told a humorous but true story about a dinner he had attended a few years ago where he was lauded as one of “the greatest men in the world.” He said that puffed him up pretty strongly and on the way home from the dinner he asked his wife how she would rank the greatest men in the world. He related that she said “One less than you think!”
Senator Lieberman doesn’t worry about his status in the world, and frankly that is exactly what makes him great. He has matured and aged with wisdom and the strength to know that all eras pass on the Earth but that what matters is what you stand for and what you do with your limited time here.
The gentleman from Connecticut fights for America and defends her liberty every day. He sees the new axis of evil in Muslim extremism, he takes seriously the Iranian puppet President’s words about eliminating Israel from the face of the Earth, he knows the vast majority in Iraq wants peace and freedom and he calls out every day for his fellow legislators to wake up, to quit name-calling and haranguing against each other and meet head-on together the greatest threats facing the last best hope for mankind: our American democracy.
Senator Lieberman, I cannot say that I have always agreed with you or even at times admired you, but last night I saw first hand the true wisdom of a great American patriot, every bit as strong and as worthy as I believe my beloved dad was. For that especially, I feel so very pleased to know that your strong and level presence in the U.S. Senate shall aid America tremendously in our steadfast attempts to keep the light of liberty ablaze here at home and to spread it throughout the world.
It is a long and arduous struggle this thing called liberty but those with a true understanding know that we can only have peace through strength. Senator Lieberman is indeed a true keeper of liberty’s flame.