Fighting For What is Right

Fighting For What is Right

© David Burton 2015

Keith Bromfield

     America has been blessed with people who have believed in the concepts of freedom, democracy, humanity and an abiding belief in the responsibility of each individual to stand up for and, if necessary, to fight and die for these principles. Many Americans have embraced these responsibilities and taken actions to make these concepts a reality. Most recently, Keith Bromfield, died while fighting for these principles.

     In addition to the numerous Americans who have taken concrete actions in response to these beliefs, others, from outside the United States, have performed similar actions, some of whom aided the United States in its fight to throw off the yoke of British rule during America’s Revolution. Two of these early champions of freedom were the Polish nobleman, Count Casimir Pulaski and the French aristocrat, the Marquis de Lafayette.

     Casimir Pulaski was a Polish nobleman, soldier and military commander. Following a recommendation by Benjamin Franklin, Pulaski immigrated to North America to help in the American Revolutionary War. He distinguished himself throughout the revolution, most notably when he saved the life of George Washington. Pulaski became a general in the Continental Army, created the Pulaski Cavalry Legion and reformed the American cavalry as a whole. At the Battle of Savannah, while leading a daring charge against British forces, he was gravely wounded, and died shortly thereafter.

     Pulaski is remembered as a hero who fought for independence and freedom both in Poland and in the United States. He is one of only nine people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship.[1]

     The Marquis de Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer who fought for the United States in the American Revolutionary War. He became a close friend of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson.

     Lafayette became convinced that the American cause in its revolutionary war was noble and he travelled to the New World where he was made a major general at the age of 19. Lafayette was wounded during the Battle of Brandywine, served with distinction in the Battle of Rhode Island and went back to France to lobby for an increase in French support for the American colonies. He returned to America and was given senior positions in the Continental Army. In 1781, troops in Virginia under his command blocked forces led by Cornwallis until other American and French forces could position themselves for the decisive Siege of Yorktown.

     Upon his death in 1834, Lafayette was buried in Paris, under soil from Bunker Hill. President Jackson ordered that Lafayette receive the same memorial honors that had been bestowed on George Washington in 1799. Both Houses of Congress were draped in black bunting for thirty days, and members wore mourning badges.

     Lafayette was an exponent of the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, especially on human rights and liberal nationalism. Maryland's legislature made Lafayette and his male heirs "natural born Citizens" of the state, which, in turn, made him a natural born citizen of the United States after the 1789 ratification of the new national Constitution. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia also granted him citizenship.[2]

     During World War I, a number of Americans sought to return the favor performed by Lafayette. “From the onset of war in Europe in August 1914 many Americans travelled to Europe and offered their volunteer services to the Allied nations (typically Britain or France) in the war against the Central Powers. Often this service took the form of service in the French Foreign Legion or in the ambulance services (Ernest Hemingway for one, served with the ambulance corps in France).
     "Increasingly, American volunteers enlisted with the French Air Service from 1915 onwards (once their petition to be allowed to volunteer for military service abroad was granted by the U.S. government). It was not long before it was suggested that a squadron (or Escadrille in French) of Americans be established for active service on the Western Front.
     “In due course the French government sanctioned such a plan and on 20 April 1916, Escadrille Americaine . . . was dispatched to France for front line service. Following German protests over the naming of the squadron - the U.S. remained neutral for a further year - it was renamed Escadrille Lafayette in December 1916 . . .“ (Ref. 3)

     The Lafayette Escadrille was initially commanded by a Frenchman and was comprised of seven American pilots. As the Escadrille's successes in the air became publicized, an increasing number of American volunteers sought service with the squadron. As many as 200 Americans eventually passed through the French Air Service's training program, 38 of them becoming pilots in the Lafayette Escadrille.[3]

     Following America’s entry into the First World war, American troops began arriving in France. Lafayette’s contribution to America’s freedom was remembered by an American lieutenant colonel, Charles Stanton. Following a parade through Paris amidst the enthusiastic and welcoming embrace of the French, General Pershing, Stanton, and the American troops arrived at the grave of the Marquis. Stanton then said the ultimate return-the-favor quote: “Nous voila, Lafayette (Lafayette, we are here!“)[4]

     There is a saying that goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Even before America entered World War II, it was providing “ significant military supplies and other assistance to the Allies.  . . . Much of this aid flowed to the United Kingdom and other nations already at war with Germany and Japan through an innovative program known as Lend-Lease.
     “Though President Roosevelt wanted to provide assistance to the British, both American law and public fears that the United States would be drawn into the conflict blocked his plans. The Neutrality Act of 1939 allowed belligerents to purchase war materiel from the United States, but only on a ‘cash and carry’ basis. The Johnson Act of 1934 also prohibited the extension of credit to countries that had not repaid U.S. loans made to them during World War I—which included Great Britain. The American military opposed the diversion of military supplies to the United Kingdom.  . . . American public opinion also limited Roosevelt’s options. Many Americans opposed involving the United States in another war.  . . .
     “{In} 1940, President Roosevelt signed a “Destroyers for Bases” agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the United States gave the British more than 50 obsolete destroyers, in exchange for 99-year leases to territory in Newfoundland and the Caribbean, which would be used as U.S. air and naval bases. (Ref. 5)

     Under this “Lend-Lease” arrangement, the United States would provide Great Britain with the supplies it needed to fight Germany, but would not insist upon being paid immediately.

     “Lend Lease” was a bold action on the part of the American President, Franklin Roosevelt. Americans wanted to stay out of the European war which had started in 1939. Supplying military aid to Great Britain was opposed by America’s military leaders because they feared these supplies might fall into the hands of the Nazis if Britain were to be defeated. In addition, the American military was underfunded and woefully short of equipment following World War I and the Great Depression. Consequently, the U.S. military leadership did not want any military material diverted to Great Britain.

     In spite of all this opposition and laws designed to present the sale of military supplies to foreign combatants, Roosevelt had the courage and foresight to find a way to provide the urgently need supplies to the beleaguered British.

     Another example of Americans coming to the aid of a nation under attack was that of the “Flying Tigers”. In 1941, China had been at war with Japan for almost four years, and from the beginning, Japanese war planes had been able to bomb and strafe helpless Chinese cities at will. That summer, months before America was drawn into World War II by the attack on Pearl Harbor, a small group of American military pilots volunteered to fight the Japanese as part of China's Air Force. At the head of this effort was a retired World War I Army Air Corps fighter pilot, Claire Chenault. Because America was not at war with Japan, great care was taken to avoid bringing into question this nation's token neutrality. As a result, these volunteer pilots were required to resign their commissions with the US military, travel to China as civilians and enlist in the Chinese Air Force. These roughly 100 pilots and 200 support crew were known as "The First American Volunteer Group" or AVG. After their first combat on December 18, 1941, where, although highly outnumbered, they were successful, a journalist wrote in his column, "they flew like tigers . . ." From that time on, they became known as the “Flying Tigers”.[6]

     A number of other Americans fought the Nazis prior to America entering World War II, many of whom served in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Canadian Royal Air Force. “Under American law, it was illegal for United States citizens to join the armed forces of foreign nations. In doing so, they lost their citizenship, although Congress passed a blanket pardon in 1944. Even so, hundreds if not thousands of American citizens volunteered to fly with the Royal Air Force before America officially entered the war in December, 1941. Perhaps the most famous result of this were the Eagle Squadrons.
     “In 1939 American . . . Colonel Charles Sweeney had begun raising an American squadron to fight in Europe, much as the Lafayette Escadrille had during the First World War.   . . .
     “In Britain Sweeney's nephew . . . had already been busy. He had formed a Home Guard unit from Americans living in London, and was keen on the idea of American squadrons in the Royal Air Force. He took the idea to the Air Ministry, and in July, 1940, they agreed that the handful of Americans already serving in the RAF, plus any new recruits, would be formed into their own national units, to be known as Eagle Squadrons.  . . .
     “. . . the Sweeney's . . . recruited around 50 pilots, and arranged and paid for them to be smuggled to Canada and then make their way to Britain.  . . . {The} Clayton Knight Committee . . . {was} formed in September 1939 to recruit Americans for the RAF. It {was} founded by Air Vice-Marshall Billy Bishop VC, a Canadian First World War veteran, and was run by an American First World War veteran, Clayton Knight.
     “The Clayton Knight Committee, working largely in secret, recruited nearly 7,000 American citizens for the RAF or Royal Canadian Air Force, and then arranged for their transportation to Canada. Nearly 250 went on to serve with the Eagle Squadrons.” (Ref. 7)

     Following the murders of some 6 million Jews by the Nazis before and during World War II, surviving Jews sought to emigrate from war-torn Europe to Palestine, then under the control of Great Britain. Britain refused to let these survivors of the Holocaust enter the Promised Land. From the end of World War II through Israel’s war of independence with the Arab nations surrounding the newly created State of Israel, many volunteers came to the aid of the Holocaust survivors and many joined in Israel’s war of survival. They left their families, jobs and comfortable lives behind.

     In “Aliyah Bet”, the illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine, American volunteers sailed from the USA to Europe on 10 ships which then brought some 35,000 survivors of the Holocaust to British-Mandate of Palestine.

     In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition British-controlled Palestine between the Arabs and Jews. The Jews accepted the two-state deal, but the Arabs rejected the plan and attacked the newly declared State of Israel. The 5 Arab League nations surrounding Palestine vowed to conquer all of Palestine and to drive all the Jews there into the Mediterranean Sea.

     One group of American World War II veterans risked their lives and American citizenships to give the newborn state of Israel a chance to survive. Moved by the plight of the Holocaust survivors and the Jews trapped in Palestine, a former U.S. Air Transport Command flight engineer came up with a plan to arm the besieged Palestinian Jews. The flight engineer and a group of pilots smuggled 12 million dollars' worth of World War II surplus rifles, machine guns, bullets and planes into ill-equipped Israel just as the 1948 Arab-Israeli War broke out. This group – made up of Jews and non-Jews – eluded the FBI, outsmarted the U.S. State Department and created fictitious airlines to help the Israeli army ward off attacks from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

     Another example of Americans volunteering to come to the aid of a country and people unfairly being attacked was that of the Aliya Bet ship "Exodus 1947". The Exodus 1947 was secretly financed and crewed by American Jews. In the summer of 1947, this dilapidated Baltimore steamer, manned by former Jewish-American GI's, took aboard 4,500 Holocaust survivors in Southern France and sailed for Palestine. Unfortunately, the ship was intercepted by the British blockade of Palestine and the immigrants on board were sent back to Displaced Persons Camps in Germany — a horrible destination for survivors of the Holocaust.

     Private American citizens were not the only Americans who came to the aid of Israel – American presidents also did. Harry Truman was not one to shirk his responsibilities as president of the United States. As famously stated by the sign on his desk, “The buck stops here!” He backed up his words with actions.

     In 1947, President Truman came to aid of European Jewry that had suffered the loss of 6 million of its people when he supported the creation of the State of Israel.

     Following World War I, Great Britain administered Palestine under a League of Nations mandate. Under this mandate, Britain faced the problem of on-going hostilities between the Arab and Jewish populations. Post-World War II, the Arabs repeatedly rejected British suggestions that a Jewish “national home” be created in Palestine, as had been previously recommended in Britain’s famous Balfour Declaration. In February 1947, Britain had enough and the British government announced that it would surrender control of Palestine to the United Nations. In August 1947, the U. N. proposed to partition Palestine into two states, one for an Arab majority and one for the Jewish minority. The Jews accepted this solution, while the Arabs rejected the plan and immediately began attacking the Jewish population of Palestine.

     President Truman had to decide whether or not to accept the U.N. partition plan and the creation of a Jewish state. Truman's foreign policy advisers, especially Secretary of State Marshall, counseled strongly against American support for a Jewish state. They worried that such a course was certain to anger the Arab states in the region and might require an American military commitment. As at least one high-ranking Defense Department official argued, access to oil, not the creation of a Jewish homeland, was America's priority in the Middle East.

     But President Truman followed his conscience and supported the establishment a Jewish state in Palestine. In November 1947, Truman ordered the American delegation at the United Nations to support the partition plan. On May 15, 1948 the United States, at Truman's direction, became the first country in the world to recognize the State of Israel.[8]

     Truman again acted to help a small, struggling nation two years later, when South Korea was in danger of being swallowed up by North Korea.

     “War broke out along the 38th parallel {that divided North and South Korea} on June 25, 1950. On that day, North Korean troops coordinated an attack at several strategic points along the parallel and headed south toward Seoul. The United Nations Security Council responded to the attack by adopting (by a 9-0 vote) a resolution that condemned the invasion as a ‘breach of the peace.’  . . . President Harry S. Truman quickly committed American forces to a combined United Nations military effort and named Gen. Douglas MacArthur Commander of the U.N. forces. Fifteen other nations also sent troops under the U.N. command. Truman did not seek a formal declaration of war from Congress; officially, America's presence in Korea amounted to no more than a ‘police action.’ “ (Ref. 9)

     President Truman acted swiftly and decisively to counter an attack on a small and peaceful nation by an aggressive and stronger adversary. He did not wait to see if his actions would be favored by the American people – instead, he took immediate action and led both the United States and the rest of the free world to oppose the North Korean attack.

     Certain that the Soviet Union lay behind the invasion of South Korea, Truman felt that failure to oppose the invasion would cause America’s allies to question America's commitment to resist Soviet and communist aggression elsewhere in the free world. Truman decided not to repeat the mistake of Munich, where the European powers appeased and condoned Hitler's expansionism that encouraged him to continue on his march toward the catastrophe of World War II.

     Another U.S. president who helped a beleaguered State of Israel fend off the Arab nations clamoring to destroy it was Richard M. Nixon. “At 6 a.m. on Saturday October 6, 1973 White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig woke Nixon at his home in California with news that Egypt and Syria had attacked Israel.”
       - - -
     “It became clear in the hours after the attack that the Arabs had surprised Israeli forces and the Israeli state faced the greatest threat to its survival since the original war of independence three decades earlier. Along the border with Syria, along the so-called Golan Heights, 180 Israeli tanks faced 1,400 Syrian tanks supplied by the Soviet Union; likewise Egypt crossed the Suez with 80,000 soldiers facing little Israeli opposition.
     “In the days following the Yom Kippur attacks, Israel suffered a number of setbacks . . . Nixon alone concluded that the US must step in to back Israel against Arab forces whose primary military supplier was the Soviet Union . . .
     “It is one of history’s great ironies that Nixon’s proposed airlift played an integral role in the salvation of the Jewish state, as in the years since the release of the Watergate Tapes it has become one of the established facts of the Nixon mythos that the president was a raving anti-Semite.  . . .
       - - -
     Yet, Nixon would play a pivotal role in protecting the Jewish state . . . Nixon went to Congress to request authorization for emergency aid for Israel . . .
     “. . . Nixon hit the roof when he learned that Kissinger was delaying the {emergency arms} airlift {to Israel} because of a concern that it would offend the Russians. Despite the opposition of his national security and foreign policy brain trust, Nixon ordered the airlift, saying, ‘We are going to get blamed just as much for three planes as for three hundred,’ and later in exasperation at the slow start of US support, said ‘Use every [plane] we have—everything that will fly.’
       - - -
     “Nixon’s loyalty drove him to save a US ally from the threat of utter destruction despite the real risk of economic crisis, and political cost to himself. To borrow the phrase from the Kennedy clan, Nixon’s decision to aid Israel was a true ‘profile in courage.’ “(Ref. 10)

     Today, there are still Americans who are willing to stand up to oppression, terror and inhumanity. They understand what is right and are willing to risk their lives fighting for what is right. They are not willing to sacrifice their lives for the promise of 72 virgins in some Islamist jihadist’s warped concept of paradise. But they will risk their lives in defense of freedom and human rights, and to save their fellow human beings from murder, torture and rape. These are the true heroes, the true martyrs, and, the true Americans. They know the dangers and still they will not shirk from what they perceive as their duties. Such a person was Keith Broomfield.

     Bromfield, a 36-year old American citizen, was killed while fighting Islamic State (ISIS) militants alongside Kurds in Syria, on 3 June 2015. Broomfield was fighting with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in the Kobani countryside of northern Syria under the Kurdish nom de guerre Damhad (meaning: it’s the time to do something). Broomfield, who had no military training, is believed to be the first U.S. citizen to die fighting alongside Kurdish forces against ISIS. It has been reported that more than 100 American citizens are currently fighting in Syria against the ISIS.

     ”In a video made before his death, Keith Broomfield explained why he had left small-town Massachusetts for the war-torn towns of Syria to join the Kurds in fighting ISIS.
     " ‘It seems like the right thing to do,’ [Emphasis mine] the 36-year-old said in a . . .video that was released by a group affiliated with the Kurdish People's Protection Union, known as YPG.
      - - -
     " ‘He knew the risk. He understood those. He believed in opposing evil, which I believe in, too,’ said his older brother . . .
     “Another sister . . . issued an impassioned message for peace on her Facebook page.
     " ‘If we allow this war to continue we are ignoring that we are all sisters and brothers’
     " ‘My brother died to defend my sisters who are being sold, enslaved, raped and murdered. To defend my brothers who are shot, beheaded and dumped into piles off trucks,’ she wrote.
     " ‘This can not continue. This needs to end.
     " I don't care what country we are from.’ “ (Ref. 11)

     American history is replete with examples of people coming to the aid of other people, of American presidents coming to the of other nations, of people and presidents doing what ”seems like the right thing to do!” It’s too bad that, today, only individual American citizens are following these examples. Too many people around the world are being murdered, tortured, raped, enslaved, starved and displaced without any concerted action by America. Instead, we, as a nation, oppose, embarrass and ignore our friends and allies while doing little or nothing about the common threats that they and we face. Actions and deeds, not words and platitudes, matter. A fear of standing up and confronting the common enemies of mankind is not an option for a nation such as the United States of America. It’s long past the time to start fighting for what is right!

     A quotation ascribed to Albert Einstein says: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything!(Ref. 12)


  1. Casimir Pulaski, Wikipedia, Accessed 13 June 2015.
  2. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, Wikipedia, Accessed 14 June 2015.
  3. Encyclopedia - Lafayette Escadrille,, Accessed 14 June 2015.
  4. Words that Matter, Ian C. Friedman,, 13 June 2010.
  5. MILESTONES: 1937–1945, U.S. Department of State: Office of the Historian, Accessed 14 June 2015.
  6. History of the Flying Tigers,, Accessed 14 June 2015.
  7. Eagle Squadrons, Royal Air Force Museum, Accessed 14 June 2015.
  8. American President: A Reference Resource, Miller Center: University of Virginia, Accessed 14 June 2015.
  9. Teaching With Documents: The United States Enters the Korean Conflict, National Archives,
    Accessed 14 June 2015.
  10. EXCLUSIVE: How Richard Nixon Helped Save Israel (EXCERPT), the algemeiner, 11 August 2014.
  11. Keith Broomfield, American Slain Fighting ISIS, 'Knew the Risk', Tracy Connor, NBC News, 11 June 2015.
  12. Albert Einstein > Quotes > Quotable Quote, goodreads, Accessed 17 June 2015.

  19 June 2015 {Article 224; Whatever_42 }    
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