William Ramsay was there to avenge William Wallace at Bannockburn in the Scottish Highland Wars. His son, Alexander Ramsay would finally secure Scottish Independence, after a brutal 8 year guerrilla campaign. This shadow war was conducted from a network of caves he lived in with his most loyal brothers, who eventually overcame certain defeat and the life of outlaws to become masters of their own destiny. Those that survived at least.
My father’s name is also William Ramsey, and though he did not know it at the time, his veins are filled with blood of these very warriors. He graduated from college in 1966, as the Vietnam War was intensifying. While most young men were getting high and chasing girls, William Ramsey was compelled to join the Army. At the resulting physical, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur, and he was rejected for service.
Most men would have felt any sense of duty satisfied, but a Ramsey is unlike most men. So he went to the Navy office and was rejected there as well. Years later, as I explored our Scottish/Norman heritage, I would learn that giving up is not in their DNA. So dad found a third Recruiter, who was happy to take him, and before the summer was over, he was in boot camp with the United States Marine Corps.
In Officer’s Candidate School, he forged a particularly strong bond with two men, Nick Lia and William Rawson. There is a unique brotherhood between men who suffer a trial, as military training is intended to be, and who accomplish and overcome together during adversity. Such it was between my dad and these men. They met our family, and stayed with my grandfather before being deployed, as if they were a cousin or sibling.
William Rawson was older, a “Mustang”, having been prior enlisted. He took Nick and my father under his wing, mentoring them and keeping them squared away. He was tough as nails, intelligent, and led from the front. The men he would soon lead into historic battles loved and respected him.
Nick was an all American kid, and an excellent Marine. He was in love, and brought his beautiful fiancée to meet my grandfather before he deployed, with assurances the Ramsey family would have a table at the wedding after his tour of duty.
In the summer of 1967, the three “brothers from another mother” deployed with the First Marine Division, headquartered in Da Nang. They were in the northern portion of South Vietnam, near the DMZ, and thus began what my father sarcastically still refers to as “Uncle Sam’s Asian Vacation”. They had no idea they were about to be a part of some of the most brutal combat of the 20th century.
Late in the evening on January 30, 1968, a series of attacks began, and exactly 9 years before my birthday of January 31, what was later dubbed “The Tet Offensive” was in full swing. These were not a few mortars and a few dumped magazines, characteristic of smaller guerrilla raids, but large forces of North Vietnamese Army, with highly skilled Chinese advisers, and supported by rockets and artillery.
The First Marines have left an unparalleled legacy on the history of modern warfare, fighting battles like Belleau Wood and in the Argonne in WW1, The Battles of Peleliu and Guadalcanal in WW2. In Korea they were at places like Inchon, and the infamous “Frozen Chosen” Reservoir. The list includes nearly every major action in the last 100 years. The tip of the spear, where the metal…or mettle..is the hardest.
In the Tet Offensive, they honored those who came before them, and left their own indelible mark in the history books. The city of Hue, not far from DaNang, was poorly defended by ARVN troops, and fell immediately. The Communist flag waved over Hue January 31, 1968. The 1st Marines were tasked with rescuing those trapped by the sudden attack, and with beginning an effort to clear the city of the communist force. Led by Col. Stanley S. Hughes, they fought their way house by house, often engaging in brutal hand to hand combat, to the heart of the city. They spent the next month clearing Hue. The world did not see urban combat of that ferocity again for over 35 years. Once again, it was the 1st Marines, clearing the city of Fallujah in Iraq.
William Ramsey, 1967, Republic of Vietnam
Lt. William Rawson and Lt. Nick Lia did not make it home. Their stories ended with “KIA, Republic of Vietnam”. My father returned home late in 1968, having already been to war, before the first draft lottery even happened. My dad set an example and I enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17. I thought I knew everything then, I am lucky I was able to grow old enough to gain wisdom. So many did not, so I could have that chance.
Despite my fervent opposition to interventionism today, I consider my dad and his fallen brothers heroes. The best reason to oppose unnecessary war is because of the honor, courage, and commitment of these brave young men. Most of us were not very politically aware at 18 or 22. A person at that age who volunteers to serve, especially knowing they are going to war, displays character and selflessness rarely seen in men twice their age. Finding out that the war was fought for the wrong reasons, sold by silver tongued devils on capitol hill is irrelevant. If a man jumps on a grenade and it does not detonate, is he less of a hero? We have an all volunteer force, who do not choose war or peace, but service.
Young men like that are a national treasure. They form the group of natural protectors, that always seem to appear in the people’s hour of need. Their DNA is wired for duty. They were so successful, people now forget that the artist, the writer, and the women and children, are only safe because of men like this. America is 150 years removed from combat on our soil. We are comfortable and have lost sight of reality with respect to the human relationship with violence. The cliches tend to run through peoples heads without being processed, as wee are bombarded with endless mass media and marketing. Nevertheless, if you wan peace, prepare for war is a true statement. An armed society really is a polite society. If we were to beat our swords into plowshares, there is a 100% certainty we would plow for those who did not.
I have heard people demean veterans in all sorts of arguments that hold them responsible for their general martial attitude, as if being drawn to a warrior lifestyle makes them bloodthirsty. These self righteous and short-sighted people, so insulated from the bulk of society, cannot understand that we will never BE free without these men, neither will never STAY free without these sort of men. In addition, if we demean them, we will lose the most powerful tool we could ever wield against the military industrial complex in the political world. Libertarian hipsters clad in skinny jeans will not convince the body politic to abandon our foreign policy. It will be the men who have BEEN THERE that will best explain the futility of spreading “democracy” at gunpoint in the middle east. We need them, and we should respect them, recruit them, and honor them.
It is not the soldier, who agrees to follow orders that may get him killed, in an act of sacrifice for his fellow Americans, who deserves our scorn. Instead, think about the type of person who would squander the lives of such special people for profit. The soldier does not purchase the equipment, with money stolen from the people, to protect other countries. My free advice is to NEVER disrespect our military men, or their service, in my presence. I am a veteran myself. Just like my father, and his fathers back to Ravens Island in Norway, and before. In such a situation, respect may become a hands on lesson
My fellow Americans, let us join together and tell the warmongers in Washington D.C., that to disrespect the blood of the brave is high treason. Let the nations veterans lead the charge, and demand they bring our brothers and sisters home to their families. We will lay on grenades, or call in the airstrike on ourselves to save you from an invading force. We will risk faulty ordinance, gunfire, bombs, snipers, friendly fire, and whatever other horrors of battle we must endure to protect you. We are that portion of men, compelled through the ages, to be the protector. In each generation, we have died,so the rest may live. Listen to my song below, written for the long lost friends off my father. Make sure every time that number on your TV clicks up, that was a person, with a family, that you will never meet. Let us HONOR our warriors, by only asking them to sacrifice for a real threat.
Consider this a formal announcement of the founding of the Libertarian Party Veterans Caucus, and remember:
Spit on Politicians, not Soldiers.
About the author:
Ryan Ramsey is a US Navy Veteran and lifelong political activist. He Chairs the Bradford County Affiliate and Represents Region 4 on the State Executive Committee for the Libertarian Party of Florida.
In addition, he hosts “Global Dissident Voices” and “Sons and Daughters of Liberty Radio” on the SDL Radio Network. He sits on the National Council of the SDL, is the Director of The Florida Liberty Project, founder of Jacksonville Open Carry, and the singer and guitarist of the “Rock Against Communism” band “Lovecrime”.