Fox Nation: 3rd Annual Patriot Awards

By Ira Liebowitz - Photo: Fox News - www.foxnews.com

December 9, 2021

Who are our heroes? Super-man? Batman? On an evening in Hollywood, Florida, our nation's true heroes, the crème de la crème, were honored on November 17th during a gala at Seminole Hard Rock, featuring a smorgasbord of superstars--gleaned from "ordinary" people like a high school student, to gallant first responders --almost the entire gamut of Fox News staff stepped out to present their 3rd Annual Patriot Awards.

A surprise by VIP Florida Governor Ron DeSantis opened the show. He mentioned that as governor, he did his job to ensure that Florida during the pandemic remained a "free state," lest it descend into a "Faucian Dystopia," referring to his perception of draconian mandate measures espoused by US Health Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The governor said that more important was getting a "job" not a "jab." As for funding the police, DeSantis had given each officer a $1,000 bonus in 2021. He says he plans to enact legislation to accord new hires and out-of-state businesses moving to Florida a $5,000 incentive.

It was thought that Donald Trump might stop by.

Near the start of the roughly two-hour event nine-year-old New Yorker D'Corey Johnson crooned the National Anthem with enough panache to enrapture the audience of about 4,000. This lad's singing perhaps reminded those of senior vintage of a just-starting-out Rat Pack Legend, Sammy Davis, Jr. as a child.

“I'm no hero, but I've met a bunch of them," said Lt. Colonel Scott Mann who received the award for Heroism. He'd initiated and participated in a mission entitled "Task Force Pineapple." This retired Green Beret collaborated with veterans recently to rescue Americans and Afghan allies stranded in Afghanistan. With cell phones displaying a photo of a pineapple they communicated to get virtual hostages past the gates to safety. Lt. Colonel Mann truly exemplifies the timeless military adage, "Leave no man (or woman) behind."

Army Sergeant First Class John Goudie had suffered the loss of a leg and a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan. "Stand up and fight for what you believe in," he said when accepting the award for Modern Warrior. His prior awards include the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.

Remember the athlete who so fervently displayed the American Flag in triumph upon winning the highest award at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo? Tamyra Mensah-Stock is the first African American female to snag a gold medal during the 17-year history of women's wrestling at the Olympics. It had been her patriotism above her prowess that so swayed Fox to award her MVP-Most Valuable Patriot.

It's been said that tough times bring out the best in ordinary people. Like during December 7th, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, proclaimed by President Franklen Roosevelt as a "day of infamy" that sparked recruits to enlist during WWII. The attack on our World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 1, 2001, 80 years hence, served as a springboard to ignite a new flame of patriotism. Two such selfless heroes emerging from the embers of the terror and tragedy of 9/11 were honored posthumously at the Patriot Awards: Todd Beamer and Stephen Siller.

On 9/11 Todd Beamer led other brave passengers aboard ill-fated Flight 93 to rush terrorist's intent on perhaps crashing the plane into the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Todd's urgent cell phone call to an operator in which his words, "Are you guys ready? Let's roll,” are forever emblazoned in a grateful nation's collective memory. All of the passengers and crew perished aboard the doomed airliner which crashed into a Pittsburgh Field in Pennsylvania, saving untold casualties on the ground. At the awards show Todd's parents, David and Peggy Beamer accepted the Courage Award on their son's behalf.

Later at the show David Beamer wanted America to stay vigilant towards an insipid virus. "We have something inside happening inside our country right now that is a virus. I'm not talking about COVID-19, I'm talking about the socialism virus that can kill our country.” He went on, "We all have an opportunity to take a stand and fight. We need to send representatives to Washington D.C. who have 'The Antibodies' and stop electing representatives who are super spreaders. Let's remember we all have a responsibility to eradicate the socialism virus. It's got to go."

In a dire catastrophe such as an earthquake or hurricane or one man-made as at the World Trade Center, often we find out what true heroes are made of. They selflessly step up to the plate risking life and limb to serve others. Such is the case of New York FireFighter Stephen Siller and more than 340 fire firefighters and 60 police officers, who, amazingly, hurried to the burning buildings-not away as most humans would do-to assist others. At shift's end about 9:00 a.m. on a sunny day headed home, Stephen turned his fire engine around, got out with 60 pounds of gear and ran through a tunnel toward burning buildings. He gave his life.

In Stephen's honor his older brother Frank founded Tunnels to Towers, an organization that builds ergonomic mortgage-free homes to accommodate severely disabled soldiers or first responders or their families losing a spouse to relieve them of the burden of paying for a home. These custom-built one-story residences permit those in wheelchairs access to sinks or counters to do dishes or prepare meals. Swimming pools set at the proper temperature provide therapy for burn victims.

For the past 20 years CEO Frank Siller has built hundreds of such homes. He presently averages constructing one about every 11 days. This night Frank was honored by receiving an award. People are encouraged to donate 11 dollars per month to www.tunnels2towers.org. A portion of the show's ticket price is going to go to T2T. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11 Frank completed his “Never Forget Walk to honor his brother and 9/11 victims. He had walked 537 miles en route from Washington D.C. to New York City. "Frank Siller's admiration for this brother, Stephen, rings eternal, he'll always be remembered as the FireFighter who ran through the tunnel and gave up his life."

Each ticket holder received a goodie bag which contained a Patriot cap and host Pete Hegseth's new book, "Modern Warriors." In it he interviews about a dozen contemporary soldiers who have gone way beyond the call of duty to ensure our freedom. Some of these heroes have repatriated with their cherished comrades on the battlefield after having suffered amputation, went through rehabilitation and received a prosthetic. Like Ionic TV starship Captain Kirk, they not only have traversed that proverbial "extra mile," but have sped light years--that's six trillion miles!--to serve us.

Washington DC's Metro Police Officer Taylor Brandt who emanates an aura of radiance received Fox's brand new Back The Blue Award from Crime Stories investigative reporter Nancy Grace. During her rookie year on the force in 2020, Taylor is credited with having saved nine lives-no, she did not rescue a kitten up a tree. "It's great to be able to say you have saved a life," Officer Brandt said, adding, "I guess I always wanted to make an impact in the community." Said Grace about the meritorious officer, "When asked about her achievement, she always gives credit to others."

Eighth-grade student Charlotte Bevan received the Young Patriot Award having written a goosebump-rousing patriotic essay for a class assignment. The 13-year-old recited her composition to resounding applause before tearfully accepting the award from Fox Commentator Tucker Carlson.

Mr. Carlson arrived on stage after 9:00 p.m., probably so scheduled after having just aired his Television show live at 8:00 p.m., at a different area of Hard Rock. He commented that Americans are skillful and are the "nicest" people in the world. Even assisting others stranded on a highway.

Long Island 17-year-old Bobby Reuter parlayed the pandemic's downtime by creatively crafting the remarkable wooden patriot award presented at the gala. He reflected on them as being, "a symbol of unity."

There was moving music. Country artists Heath Sanders and Tyler Farr seated alongside each other on guitars performed the sentimental "The Man I Left Behind," written by Sanders and CreativeVets.

The audience stood silently as Fox's Sean Hannity prayed for gold star families who had lost loved ones in battle and the thirteen gallant soldiers attempting to free those left behind as Afghanistan was surrendered to Islamic extremists. Those in the military were invited to stand-and a sizable portion of this audience did so-and were thanked for their service.

During a lighter moment Mr. Hannity mimicked Fox Contributor Mark Levin who, like Jackie Gleason of a bygone generation, he refers to as "The Great One." Hannity's pedantic burst brought out a few chuckles.

It was a busy evening and the blue-carpeted corridor leading to the auditorium was a flurry of activity. A melting pot diversity of people for which America is famous, reigned. Headgear from cowboy hats to veteran's caps accented the aisles. Men donned neckties featuring the colors of the day-red, white and blue-as if having raided the same haberdashery. Ladies divaed-up in elegant gowns. Tuxedoed host Hegseth flashed a jacket lining to reveal red white and blue.

Maureen Joy of Maureen Joy's Healing Journey, said "I feel humbled and grateful to be a part of thousands at the Hard Rock during such a momentous occasion. Being privileged to entertain at a veterans’ fundraiser in Chicago, I was honored to show our recognition and validation to all the brave men and women who fight for our freedom."

Though swamped, Hard Rock's blue-sport-coated security were polite and accommodating. Leaving the gala, singer Cher look-a-like Maureen Joy asked for a cup of hot tea to which a congenial staffer cordially obliged.

Gary Knight, of Hollywood, Florida said that his dad, Walter, underage at 17 and three of his uncles had signed up to our then Army Air Corps to serve before their enlistment papers arrived after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Walter served as a medic in Honolulu and his brother, John, built B-17 airplane fuselage parts in Denver. Of note is that Walter sailed home aboard President Franklin Roosevelt's personal cruiser, the Tuscaloosa. Today at age 97, Walter, as he has done for decades, put on his old Army Air Corps uniform to march each November 11th in the Veteran's Day parade.

Though generally orderly, the cadre of military, CIA, first responders, police and firefighters waxed effusive, energized and ebullient, often standing in ovation, several times chanting a unifying "USA! USA! USA!" As such, it was said that on this night, this auditorium at Seminole Hard Rock likely was the safest place in the entire country.

Now, let’s feature a few quintessential quotes from host Pet Hegseth’s new book, “Modern Warriors”:

“We’re not sending miscreants overseas; we’re not sending victims: we’re sending leaders - the smartest, brightest, funniest and most capable people in the world.”;
--Lieutenant Commander (Ret.) and Texas State Representative Daniel Crenshaw

“A lot of times you are dealt a bad hand, but you rough it out and come out the other side better for having done so… Some things are different now. One thing isn’t: I still want to serve… I want to continue to put other people and their needs ahead of my own needs.”
-- Marine Staff Sergeant (Ret.) Jeremiah Workman

“It wasn’t about me. It was about the team. If I ever put one of my teammates in a predicament and they get injured or heaven forbid, their life was taken because of my injury, I couldn’t live with myself. This is when I realized that God had different plans for me and boy were they great.”
--Sergeant First Class (Ret.) John Wayne Walding

“Are you guys ready? Let’s roll”
--Hero of Flight 93, Todd Beamer

Note: Event host Pete Heagseth age 41, Marine First Lieutenant, father of seven, himself has copious incredible credentials. While still in college the tragic loss of life and assault on our country so moved this patriot to later join the marines. For his first year Pete trained and led troops in Guantanamo and in combat for the next six years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Afterward, he adroitly passed along journalistic skill to enlighten America as to what occurred overseas and oh yes, one small point—like the movie icon John Wayne who portrayed a coveted Green Beret on the Silver Screen, Pete actually became one in real life!

Also notably, a majority of Fox Staff on stage this night have written books proposing a vigilance to curtail “progressive” elements set on doing away with our rights guaranteed for over 200 years in our Constitution. For lighter fare, check out an account by Fox analyst and former Bush press Secretary Dana Perino as to her prized pooch, Jasper. Incidentally, my father, Sidney Liebowitz, once wrote a letter to President Bush suggesting he not deploy troops to Iraq, but instead be stationed to protect our Southern border. Today a White House “thank you” letter graces my mom’s living room wall. Perhaps the president should have taken dad’s advice.

Capping off the award show, Fox contributor and Country artist John Rich of the popular duo, “Big and Rich,” performed a buoyant rendition of Irving Berlin’s beloved “God Bless America'' to which a moved audience began to sing along and wave lighted cell phones.
As folks were leaving, Fox morning host Brian Kilmeade stayed to chat and be photographed with a long line of fans. Earlier that day he had been treated by Hollywood’s finest - police officers--for a ride-along which included a tour of the picturesque Intracoastal waterway. No doubt this event at the Seminole Hard Rock shone a bright light on the local community.

Perhaps another song apropos for the evening could have been sung - Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA: Here is a segment:
And I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up
Next to you and defend her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land
God Bless the USA

Superman. Wonder Woman. Captain America - they all have their place. But, folks like Lt. Colonel Scott Mann, Staff Sergeant John Goudie and other stalwarts for freedom differ from comic-book heroes in a singular sense: they are real, in the flesh. Their sacrifices to protect us are selfless and many. By mortal standards, they soar above us. Yet, modestly, they downplay their majesty. Our foremost heroes remain mum or say thusly, “Our true heroes in battle are the ones who never made it home.” And, for that, a packed audience at Seminole Hard Rock and some 350 million countrymen and women say a hearty, “Thank you!”

As a Diet Therapy Specialist at Cha-nute AFB Hospital in Illinois during peacetime, Staff Sergeant Ira Liebowitz served his country - literally - breakfast, lunch and dinner and yes, the stereotype is true: Navy personnel do savor SOS, politely known as “creamed beef on toast.”