Not to Be Forgotten - Video
Memorial Day is the holiday observed to
honor by remembrance all of those men and women who have died in our
nation's service. But it is also their due that we realize that
each of them has their own story, that they each have loved ones that
grieve and mark their absence, that they deserve to remembered more
than only one day of each year.
One such story deserves telling today
because it was 45 years ago on this date that Air Force jet
pilot. David Louis Hrdlicka, USAF, flew his last mission for the
country that he loved.
It was on May 18th, 1965
that according to Carol Hrdlicka, David's devoted wife, her
husband was shot down over Laos. David was seen to bail out and
land safely. He was photographed in captivity of the Pathet Lao
and was extensively documented as a Prisoner of War over a
long period of time. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
includes him on their 'Last Known Alive' list and he is termed a
discrepancy case because he has yet to be accounted for.
It was thought that he would be returned in
Operation Homecoming in 1973 when 577 fellow POW's were released by
their captors. There is documentation of Henry Kissinger speaking
later that summer about David's imprisonment, so why wasn't
he brought home? His whereabouts were being tracked for
years, well into his second decade of imprisonment, but somehow the
politics of repatriation kept getting in the way.
To David's wife, Carol,
there were admonishments by government officials from the start.
She was requested to keep quiet for his sake and safety, followed by
strings of half truths and even outright lies over the years. She
believes the DIA presumably hoped she would give up and go
away or at least she would move on to another
agency in her quest for answers, only to pass her down the line of
bureaucracy. Being well beyond the argument of whether the U.S. should
have been involved in the conflict of SE Asia, the lessons learned are
to not allow those in power to expect Americans to blindly believe all
they want us to hear. That to be true to the soldiers and their memory,
as well as to ourselves, we must expect proof of what they say and to
accept nothing less.
Col. David Hrdlicka chose to serve as a US
Air Force fighter pilot and did so with honor. He and his family
still serve. His toddler children have grown to adulthood. They
have all wondered, for every day of those 45
years, is he still alive....as they eat, sleep and breathe, they
ask themselves, is he hurting, is he hungry, is he wondering where we
are and if we've forgotten him?
This family doesn't seek sympathy and
certainly doesn't want public pity. This story is no more
special than that of the thousands of other servicemen and
women who have given their lives for America's freedom. They each
have their unique story. The circumstances are all as different as
the individuals involved but the outcome is the same.
They hope they aren't forgotten.
POW/MIA Affiliation Muhammad Ali to
Let Freedom Ring has for going on two
decades promoted the cause of Freedom and "championed" the plight of
America's Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIAs).
In 1992, Let Freedom Ring planned and
promoted a charity benefit music concert to highlight the POW/MIA issue
and to draw the world's attention to the fact that thousands of
American servicemen have never returned from wars (WW II, the Korean
War, Vietnam and Desert Storm).
Celebrities gathered together in
Philadelphia with World Champion boxers, including World Heavyweight
Champion Muhammad Ali, former boxing champion Jake LaMotta ("The Raging
Bull"), Alexis Arguello, Ernie Shavers, Tim Witherspoon and many more
boxing greats to champion the cause of Freedom.
Renowned singer/songwriter, John Whitehead,
famous for his inspirational message song, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now"
was joined by Rita, Israel's Queen of Song, and a host of other
celebrated artists, to perform for the POW/MIA families at
Philadelphia's prestigious Academy of Music concert hall. Let Freedom
Ring's President, Arnold L. Beizer, Esq. contributed $400,000 to bring
all the celebrities together in the City of Brotherly Love and to host
the charity dinner and concert. Donations of $20,000 from Let Freedom
Ring benefited several POW/MIA organizations, including but not limited
to the National Forget Me Not Association, the American Defense
Institute, and No Greater Love.
In 1994, Let Freedom Ring sponsored a
mission with Muhammad Ali to Vietnam where POW/MIA family members joined with
Let Freedom Ring's President, to find answers from Vietnam government
officials about American POWs last known alive. A Bridge of Friendship
was established between POW families and Vietnam representatives who
promised to do more to resolve the issue of America's missing
servicemen from the war.
Let Freedom Ring purchased and released for
publication exclusive photographs and negatives of captured American
flyers obtained from Vietnamese sources in country clearly showing that
the Vietnamese military had a wealth of information documenting the
whereabouts of servicemen known to be captured alive but who never
returned after Operation Homecoming in April, 1973.
In addition, Let Freedom Ring sponsored
many media events held to generate much needed media coverage of the
POW/MIA issue. One such event stands out head and shoulders above the
rest. This took place when Attorney Arnold Beizer, Let Freedom Ring's
determined President, rented a huge elephant named Daisy, renaming her
"MIA" for a press conference held in front of Philadelphia's
Independence Hall at the Liberty Bell Pavilion.
At first the National Park Service police
refused to permit the elephant to be downloaded at the curb in front of
the Liberty Bell. But Attorney Beizer quickly came to the elephant's
defense and pointed out to police there was no law prohibiting
elephants from parking at the curb! "MIA" was unloaded onto the street
and then promptly left a load of her own as she proudly paraded about
the mall with a large yellow ribbon tied around her neck and a banner
draped over her back proclaiming, "Elephants Never Forget...Don't You
Forget Our POWs/MIAs"!
Television trucks beamed the big story of
the elephant's walk around the Liberty Bell on Philadelphia's TV news
stations throughout the day, which pricked up the ears of the public
and created quite a flap.
Informing and educating Congress and the
President on the unsolved POW/MIA
issue is another of Let Freedom Ring's prime focus areas. But the
principal mission of Let Freedom Ring is to produce and provide
MUSIC FROM THE HEART
OF AMERICA bringing a message of freedom to the masses. Music is
the Universal language that all can understand.
As the saying goes, "People who make music together cannot be enemies,
at least while the music lasts!!".
SO LET THE MUSIC PLAY!
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