WASHINGTON – It was 28 years ago today that President Ronald Reagan used his State of the Union speech to introduce a genuine American hero – returned prisoner of war Jeremiah Denton who had endured years of torture and abuse in a North Vietnamese prison camp.
"We don't have to turn to our history books for heroes," Reagan said. "They are all around us. One who sits among you here tonight epitomized that heroism at the end of the longest imprisonment ever inflicted on men of our armed forces. Who will ever forget that night when we waited for the television to bring us the scene of that first plane landing at Clark Field in the Philippines – bringing our POWs home. The plane door opened and Jeremiah Denton came slowly down the ramp. He caught sight of our flag, saluted, and said, 'God Bless America.' then thanked us for bringing him home."
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Rear Admiral Denton went on to be elected U.S. senator from Alabama and helped Reagan devise the Cold War strategy that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. He also wrote the book, "When Hell Was in Session," the story of his experiences in the prison camp, where he famously was interviewed on camera, refusing to denounce his country, all the while blinking in Morse Code the word "TORTURE."
An updated edition of "When Hell Was in Session" has been republished by WND Books to include his experiences upon returning home. Autographed copies are available exclusively from the WND Superstore.