Friday, May 23, 2014

Learning about Oliver North as we Studied the Reagan Years

My key choice for reading material during our study of the Reagan years in my son's senior year was Oliver North's autobiography, Under Fire: An American Story.  This was in fact my second time to read the book so I knew my son would enjoy it. I remember watching the Iran-Contra hearings with my family the summer of 1987. Before I knew what primary source documents were, I was heavily influenced by watching a primary source document unfold in front of my eyes and thousands more Americans, instead of relying on biased media.  As we watched hour after hour of grueling redundantly pointless questioning that dangerously unveiled to the public national secrets and endangered lives, many in America formed their opinion. As a result thousands of people stood outside the hearings to cheer North on. Thousands of telegrams of support poured in to support him as well.

Through the book we learn of North's background and of his education at the Naval Academy, which was delayed due to various severe injuries from a traffic accident. One of his hospital mates was future Dallas Cowboy Roger Staubach! North tells about how he became a Christian.We learned of his service in Vietnam where he earned several medals, including two Purple Hearts. 

Because of the time frame covered, we kept to our classical education goals by reading this 400+ page tome in parts. For example we read about his Academy and Vietnam years when we studied the 1960's-70's, then we saved the years he served with the National Security Council when we studied the 1980's.

The drama builds as we read of his assignment to the National Security Council where he worked to coordinate counter-terrorism (whle learning on the go) and often helping to rescue American captives in the process. During the Cold War the ultimate war was to fight Communism and work with then present allies.

Through it all, North shares that despite the precarious situation he was placed in, he will always be greatful that President Reagan fought communism and ultimately ended it. Because of Reagan, North relates, the world became a safer place for his children...for us...and for all.

Nevertheless he had to face Congress. North vividly recreates the frustrating scene in his book. Wanting to prove the intensity of the drama, I found some video clips to show my son. The descriptions were spot on to my memory and the details of the book. 

Here is one from C-Span July 7, 1987.

Here is one from the next day, July 8, 1987

While North awaited the results of the later trial, his pastor read from North's well-worn Bible, that had traveled from Tehran to trial:
"Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare
     and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
     and under His wings you will find refuge;
     His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." -Psalm 91

Today Oliver North is the author of 13 New York Times' best sellers, including personal stories of military heroes as well as spy novels! He's also a professional speaker to private groups. He can also be seen on Fox hosting his series, "War Stories."

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