Today marks forty years since the third big release of POWs from Hanoi. It was a wonderful day as we were handed over one a time to an Air Force Brigadier General at Hanoi’s Gia Lam airport. We saluted, shook hands and then headed into the waiting womb of a beautiful C-141—we called it the Hanoi Taxi. As soon as it was loaded with our little group, we taxied out and in the flamboyant style of aviators, flew to our freedom. After more than five years of Communist captivity it does not get much better than that.
“Looking back with the perspective of the wisdom of age and years, I can say that the greatest feeling I have is gratitude.”
Looking back with the perspective of the wisdom of age and years, I can say that the greatest feeling I have is gratitude. I’m so thankful for freedom—to see the stars at night and the sunrise and sunset of the day, to be able to roam, to make choices, to plan something and then actually go do it. Also, I’m grateful for the seemingly simple things—to have hot water, good meals, and all the comforts that we enjoy. Since my return, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife Mary, four grown children and six grandchildren. I love my work and feel blessed to get up every morning and thankful to go to bed with a real mattress at night. I’m thankful for friends and especially for our great country and the people who appreciate it.
I’m also aware that with these great privileges of freedom and prosperity come great responsibilities. As citizens we must stand tall and protect the vision of our founding fathers—a republic where the individual has opportunity and worth.
Today I’d like to share with you the words I use in closing many of my speeches. The first three lines come from the trailer to The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and the last line is mine –
“There is no freedom without sacrifice.”
“There is no victory without loss.”
“There is no glory without suffering.”
To those three great lines of truth, I’d like to add one more that I believe is crucial for our country right now.
“There is no honor without courage.”
Live courageously – lean into the pain of your fears to do the right thing. You can never go wrong doing right.
God Bless You All,
Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC® & FreedomStar Media™.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
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He is the author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton