Benjamin Franklin said, “Distrust and caution are the parents of security.” He also said, “Security without liberty is called prison.” Both apply to what I want to share with you today in my culture warrior column.

Last Friday evening in Houston, my wife, Gena, and I were overjoyed to host the 22nd annual gala for our foundation, KICKSTART KIDS, or KSK, which seeks to build character through karate in students in Texas public middle schools. We were equally honored to have as our special guests at the event Texas Gov. and Mrs. Gregg Abbott and Marcus Luttrell, a former United States Navy SEAL who received the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for his actions in June 2005 facing Taliban fighters during Operation Redwing. It was an amazing night and gala!

On behalf of KICKSTART KIDS, we are doubly blessed this May also to be receiving the 2015 Safe School Crime Stoppers Award, an award given to any individual or group that has made a significant contribution towards keeping schools safe and enhancing education. What an honor it is, too!

Speaking of awesome patriotic fighting machines, Crime Stoppers USA is the national Crime Stoppers organization that spans the United States to create a network of local programs that work together to prevent and solve crimes in communities and schools across the nation, as its official website explains.

You can fight right where you are by supporting or joining the local Crime Stoppers organization in your area by visiting its website. You can even submit crime tips and review top criminals in the U.S. there. And if you want further training, then attend its 5th Annual Training Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on Aug. 16-19, 2015, where stimulating and productive training classes are offered.

As I think about Crime Stoppers, Gov. Abbott, and former Navy SEAL Luttrell, I am reminded again of how true patriots need to continue to fight for freedom wherever we are. At 75 years old, I’m still fighting. If you’re reading this column, odds are you are, too.

Chuck Norris provides real solutions to our county’s problems and a way to reawaken the American dream in his best-seller, “Black Belt Patriotism.”

While out on a run in 1984, Gov. Abbot was struck by a falling oak tree that crippled his legs for life but not his heart, mind and passion. He not only went on to become attorney general for the Lone Star State but also its 48th and current governor.

In announcing his candidacy in July 2013, Gov. Abbott’s true grit showed when he said, “Some politicians talk about having a steel spine. I actually have one. I will use my steel spine to fight for Texas values every single day. He’s led a life of perseverance to prove it.

Last week, I laughed as some progressives in the mainstream media tried to mock Gov. Abbott for telling the Texas State Guard to monitor the Pentagon’s Jade Helm 15 military ops that are occurring this summer in seven states, including California and Texas.

If you haven’t heard about Jade Helm 15, you need to. It is multi-state training mission for special operations soldiers scheduled over an eight-week period in July and August, with most of the activity happening on private property but some public, too. The official website press release from March 24 admits: “While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart.”

Gov. Abbot was right in writing Maj. Gen. Gerald Betty, “During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.” Abbott is demanding “regular updates on the progress and safety of the Operation.”

Concerned Texans and Americans are in no way calling into question our brave and courageous men and women in uniform. They are merely following orders. What’s under question are those who are pulling the strings at the top of Jade Helm 15 back in Washington. The U.S. government says, “It’s just a training exercise.” But I’m not sure the term “just” has any reference to reality when the government uses it.

“Well, I’m not trusting what we’re being told,” said Mike Hightower, an affable antique store owner and real-estate agent in the very small town of Smithville, Texas, where some Jade Helm 15 exercises will take place. He added, “I think there’s something a little more involved than what they’re telling us.”

If Washington wants to cool the embers of controversy, then it should quit stoking the fire, as with the posting of a map of Jade Helm 15 “just” exercises that label some areas of the country, including Texas, as “hostile,” according to KHOU 11 News in Houston and verified by the Washington Post.

I have an idea: If the government insists on running expanded military ops across seven Southwest states, why doesn’t it move all that “military training” south and protect our borders at the same time?!

Whatever Jade Helm 15 actually is, I think it is more than coincidental that the FBI director just confessed in February that the presence of ISIS can be felt in all 50 states of the U.S. and that the Pentagon is suddenly running its biggest military training exercise with every branch of the military across seven Southwestern states. Whether deterrence, display of power or something more covert or devious, let’s not come with any patronizing nonsense of impotence and simplicity when its origin is in Washington.

I’m glad Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is asking the tough questions of the Pentagon about Jade Helm 15, particularly because its “exercises” come too near to my ranch’s backdoor as well, at least according to the map. It’s pretty sad and bad when major military ops are ordered in a large, fiery state like Texas and not even the governor or its senators know the specifics.

It’s neither over-reactionary nor conspiratorial to call into question or ask for transparency about Jade Helm 15 or any other government activity. To those who merely think we should check our brains at the door of the White House and trust what the government does, I would reiterate to you the words of one of our government’s primary founders, Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Distrust and caution are the parents of security.” Again, he also said, “Security without liberty is called prison.” But then again, I’m sure some today would accuse Franklin of being conspiratorial, too!

As a friend, a law-abiding and loyal retired California Highway Patrol officer, said to me, “In God We Trust; all others we search.” Or as the maxim President Reagan cited, “Trust but verify.”

Friends, when it comes to freedom, we must question, verify and vet everyone and everything. As Thomas Jefferson told his nephew, Peter, in 1787: “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”

We must never check our brains or blindly trust, especially the government. Rather, we must fight until our dying breaths for liberty, especially when it appears those in power are trying to knock down Old Glory.

Former Navy SEAL Luttrell couldn’t have said it better: “I will never quit. My nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.”

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