Honoring A Hero, Despite the Chicken Little Crowd

Danny P. Dietz of Littleton, Colorado grew up to be the kind of young man any American parent would be proud to call a son.

 Dietz, after graduating high school, decided to serve his country and joined the United States Navy. Dietz and the Navy proved to be a solid combination as the young Colorado native trained hard and became a Navy SEAL. It meant of course that Dietz would likely find himself in harm’s way as the SEALS are the Navy’s Special Operations Forces, highly skilled and trained in counter-terrorism and other more unconventional means of warfare. Only the best of the best make it through SEALS training. Statue of Navy SEAL Danny Dietz

Dispatched to Afghanistan, Dietz found himself in the middle of an ambush in June, 2005 and performed heroically in combat. Right up to his death.  

Tipped off by anti-coalition Taliban sympathizers of their location, Dietz and another member of the SEALS, Matthew Axelson of Cuppertino, California, were flanked on all sides by Taliban fighters.  

The SEALS’ mission had been to locate a central figure in the Taliban leadership in the mountains of Asadabad. Instead the fighters had found Dietz and Axelson and were pummeling the two Americans who called for assistance. The Chinook helicopter dispatched to aid the courageous SEALS never made it as it was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. In all, eight SEALS and another eight Army Nighthawks lost their lives in what would be the worst single combat loss for the Navy SEALS since Vietnam. Accounts from the battle indicated that Dietz fought until his last dying breath. 

Dietz was awarded the Navy Cross, this country’s second-highest military honor. His SEALS teammate, Matthew Axelson also was so honored. Dietz’s widow and parents received the posthumous award on his behalf in a ceremony on September 13 at the US Navy War Memorial in Washington, DC.   

Dietz’s hometown was also justly proud and wanted to honor this brave young man, commissioning a statue of Dietz that would reside in a municipal park. The statue, of a crouching Dietz in battle gear with his rifle at the ready, was commissioned and the city pushed forward in its efforts to honor its fallen hero. 

If the town of Littleton, Colorado sounds familiar, that’s because 8 years earlier, in 1999, the Colorado enclave made worldwide news thanks to the wanton, senseless slaughter at Columbine High School when two misfits murdered twelve of their fellow classmates before literally turning their guns on themselves. Here though was a chance for the community to rally around a hero with a gun, instead of being remembered for a couple of thugs. 

The statue of Dietz will be near Littleton Middle School, in Berry Park, which happens to also be near a couple of other schools (really, in a city the size of Littleton, what isn’t near a park or a school?) which seems to bother some misguided souls who seem to believe that a statue of an American hero is a bad message for the children.  

“After our experience with Columbine and the clear message that we teach within the Littleton schools…what were we thinking?” stated Emily Cassidy Fuchs to the Rocky Mountain News. Which makes one wonder what is being taught in the Littleton schools. Fuchs was part of a coalition of parents who were distributing flyers objecting to both the design and placement of the statue. “If I’ve got my 4-year old at the playground, I feel it would be a threatening image that would frighten her,” Fuchs amazingly added, apparently unable to explain to her child that the man in the statue with the M4A1 assault rifle and grenade launcher was there to protect her. 

But Dietz’s widow, Patsy, had a ready answer in her response according to the same newspaper account when she said comparing the guns used in Columbine to her husband’s weapon was like comparing a criminal’s use of a knife to a surgeon’s scalpel. “One is used to take lives…and the other is used to save them,” she told the Rocky Mountain News. Dietz’s mother, Cindy, also, thankfully was able to bring this silliness into perspective when she told the paper that the statue “is about a hero. It’s not about war, and it’s definitely not about a gun.”  

Thankfully Littleton has already made the decision to proceed with the statue as planned.   

Despite the small but rabid chicken little crowd, a hero gets his just due.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Afghanistan, Guns, War on Terror

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