Thursday, April 23, 2009


The now famous words by Martin Luther King Jr. about judging a man, not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character, really resonated with me in describing the object of this column, “ A Real American Hero”, Lt. Col. Allen B. West (ret.) U.S. Army, who is a real American hero who just happens to be African-American. Last year, a Jewish friend of mine, invited me to attend a debate between Lt. Col. West and Ron Klein, the Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress in the 22nd C.D. in 2008. The topic was to be on terrorism and how it affects us here in the U.S.A. The debate was sponsored by the Zionists of America and was held at a Temple in Delray Beach. At the last minute, Ron Klein backed out and Lt. Col. West had to proceed all alone. I didn’t know what to expect, as I never heard him speak before. As he began his talk on the topic of terrorism, I was immediately impressed with his demeanor and grasp of the subject matter. His knowledge of the Muslim religion and how it has evolved over the centuries was very informative and eye opening with the breadth of his historical insights that he referred to, all without notes. With a crowd of approximately 100 on hand, you could hear a pin drop in the audience, which I would estimate as being made up of mostly Democrats. The comments from the attendees, after his talk, was overwhelmingly positive and laudatory. Afterward, I wanted to know what made this excellent speaker tick, so I Googled up his name on the internet and was pleasantly elated to find a biography of a true American hero. Lt. Col. Allen West (ret.) U.S. Army, has earned two master degrees after he graduated from the Univ. Of Tennessee in 1983. He was sworn in as an Army officer immediately after graduation in 1983. During his career in the military, he spent over 36 months in both Iraq wars and in Afghanistan. During his tour in Iraq, he had the occasion of interrogating a captured terrorist, one-on-one, and was able to glean valuable information from the terrorist that prevented an attack upon the troops under his command. He takes great pride in the fact that he didn’t lose one soldier under his command while in Iraq during his deployment. After his tour in Iraq, he returned to the service of his country as a consultant to the Afghan Army and as a training advisor to its military. Upon reading about him on Google, it was apparent that his soldiers, who were interviewed, all had the highest regard for his leadership in battle and praised him to the hilt as a man of excellent character and integrity. In recognition of his service to his country, the Army awarded him the Bronze Star medal, Meritorious Service medal, 3 Army Commendation medals, one with valor, plus others too many to mention here. I’ve heard him speak many times since , and came away with the same conclusion as I reached before, during my first encounter, at the Temple in Delray Beach. All I can say is that we are fortunate to have a man of his exemplary caliber running for Congress in our area - the 22nd C.D. again in 2010. He lost by a whisker to incumbent, Ron Klein in 2008. He went from a complete nobody and unknown, 8 months before, to within 5 percentage points of victory to an incumbent with well over a million dollar “ war chest”. The Obama phenomenon was generally considered to be the difference in Lt.Col. Allen West’s narrow loss. Things will be much different in 2010. He is already campaigning and meeting people in the district. Response to his candidacy has been very well received and the prospects for him winning is improving every passing day. If you ever get the opportunity to meet or see him, you will be just as impressed with him as I am. He is a regular guest on the Joyce Kaufman Show at 850 AM WTFL. Meeting Lt. Col. West, if you get the opportunity, will show you what Martin Luther King Jr. meant by judging the man’s character and not the color of his skin as the determining factor of evaluating his place in a free society.

Written by Chuck Lehmann
"Chuck on the Right Side"

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