Photo Courtesy of Kyle Petty Charity Ride.
I knew it would happen sooner or later. My first disappointment of the KCPRAA occurred today after I got to my room in Beaumont.
I turned on the TV for news updates to Fox News, of course (the source for highly-informed voters/electorate), and to my dismay the channel was not available. My two choices for national news channels were CNN and MSNBC, the stations for low-to-no information voters. No worries, I can always check out reruns of Green Acres or Petticoat Junction; far more intellectually stimulating than the Most Serious National Barack Channel or Clueless News Network.
It was a short ride today and the weather was perfect, cool, overcast, but with a strong crosswind. The traffic in Houston was rough, even in the middle of the day, but we all arrived safely to Beaumont, greeted by a very welcoming crowd.
My day began with an awesome 4-mile run along the Colorado River running trail in Austin. It was great to have such a professional police escort provided by the City of Austin Motormen. I really enjoyed chatting with a several of them, especially Gunslinger, a former Army Ranger. There was a super nice lady who came by and stopped to share some small talk.
For breakfast, we pulled into the Krispy Kreme, and yes, the “Hot Now” sign was lit up. I met a fella there from Indiana named Terry who had a copy of my book, Guardian of the Republic, for me to sign. After a nice breakfast sandwich and a donut, we were off. First stop: Waller, TX, where I met several folks who had come out to cheer us on.
After leaving Austin, TX, the theme for today’s ride hit me: reflections and doors.
In December 2003, in Tikrit, Iraq, after undergoing an Article 32 hearing, I stood before my 4th Infantry Division Commander, now Chief of Staff of the Army, Major General Ray Odierno. I submitted myself to the Article 15 Non-Judicial Punishment of $5,000 for the actions I took while a battalion commander.
Many of those who watch CNN and MSNBC castigate me as a “war criminal.” I find this hilarious and absurd. I wonder what they call a person who, instead of taking an action to save American lives, took no action at all? Matter of fact, said individual allowed four Americans under Islamic terrorist attack to be murdered. As far as we all know, said individual went to sleep due to a strenuous schedule of campaign fundraising events the following day.
Not only that, but said individual then proceeded to lie about their non-actions and cast blame elsewhere. When I was asked, during the Article 32 hearing, if I would take the same action again, perhaps I should have blamed my actions on a video and all would have been fine? Instead, I responded, “If it is about the safety and lives of my men, I would go through hell with a gasoline can.”
To the useful idiots and mindless liberal lemmings who refer to me as anything other than Lieutenant Colonel, Retired, Allen B. West — with 22 years of honorable service, rank, and benefits — you are delusional and confused. You criticize me, a commander who stood up for his men, while you embrace a cowardly commander-in-chief, Barack Hussein Obama, who did nothing while Americans died. It is both disgusting and despicable.
After being a man of honor standing before General Odierno, I redeployed back to Ft. Hood, TX, arriving on December 17, 2003. My wife and I made our decision that I would retire in 2004. At the time, Angela was a financial advisor with First Command Financial Services and they offered her a nice position in South Florida, where she had extended family. Three days later, we loaded up the charcoal gray Chevy Suburban with a U-Haul trailer and two yap — yap Pomeranian dogs — and departed for Florida.
Leaving Austin, TX, today, I reflected on the route we were taking. It was the same route our family took a little over 10 years ago. While Angela and the girls slept, I felt trepidation in my heart, as God closed a door in my life. No chuckleheads, I was not forced out. We were moving to South Florida to establish our home and Angela’s career, but I would return to Ft. Hood to finish up my tour and retire, effective August 1, 2004.
I did not know what lay ahead for me in life. I thought I would be a high school teacher and a track coach. Nah, Someone had a different plan.
Today as I drove that same route on my motorcycle, I thought about that door closing — testing our faith — as God prepared me for a new mission. I considered one of my favorite verses from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans:
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-6 NIV)
It was a tough time, awaiting the hearing in Iraq and being removed from command, but it was all part of a grander purpose — to build up my faith, perseverance, character, and hope — but not in man.
Back in December 2003, when I traveled the roads taking us from Ft. Hood to Austin to Houston to Beaumont, the folks who came out to see us today had never heard of me. Somehow, something amazing has happened in the intervening years. Everything worked out okay. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
Aubrey was 10 years old at that time. Now she is 21 and just finishing her junior year of college pre-med/biology. Austen had just turned 7. Now she is 17 and finishing her junior year of high school. Angela has become one of the top producing brokers for Raymond James. And me, well, I am blessed beyond my imagination.
Reflecting upon the closure of one door, as God opened a greater one (one of which I just drove my motorcycle through), I want to share with you that we should not run away from trials, travails, and tribulations. We should count them all joy as we are being perfected for a greater purpose. A diamond is but a rock until it undergoes intense pressure and heat. Steel is purified by intense heat. We cannot seek to live a life where our goal is to go from one oasis to another. Sometimes we have to cross a desert in order to develop inner strength.
Many are asking me to consider a huge undertaking. If God had not placed a challenge before me and closed one door, perhaps a new mission would not be possible. Here I am, traveling along the same path I took in December 2003. I am traveling with my “Band of Brothers” and meeting my beloved countrymen and women along the way, sharing my perspectives as well.
A new door has opened and faithfully I walked through it. This morning a couple of our Motor Marshalls, former NC Highway Patrolmen, expressed their delight in my publicly sharing my faith. I told them I have no choice. I ain’t perfect, but I do know that God guides my steps and protects my family.
We did not stop to rest back in December 2003, but today I had the opportunity to reflect upon those doors that have opened for me. Where will this journey lead me? Only God knows. What a journey it has been so far!
Why do I remain so committed amidst all the hateful speech and attacks aimed at me? Simple. “‘No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the LORD” (Isaiah 54:17 NIV). So I press on and thank God for this moment to reflect upon the doors of life.
Day 6 tomorrow: into Louisiana and stopping in Nawlins!
And to all of you who have asked me that one question, well, I will consider and be in prayer about it, and chat with Angela.
Steadfast and Loyal!