tv The Kelly File FOX News December 30, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
i'm in for bill o'reilly. remember, the spin stops here because we are always looking out for you. happy new year to everyone. welcome to a "the kelly file" special report. a salute to our nation's greatest generation. in october 2013 a remarkable event took place on the national mall. the park service barricaded the open air world war ii memorial in a move they blamed on the government shutdown. the reaction from the vets, families and supporters was swift and angry. in the time it took to find bolt cutters, we were seeing pictures of defiant soldiers, many on kanes or in wheelchairs, crossing the barricades with the kind of determination that reminded many in america again of the spirit that once helped
us win a war and preserve our freedom. over the next hour we'll revisit the incredible sacrifice these men and women made to defend this country in the bloodiest and most widespread war in history. the average age of a d-day veteran is now 92. now, more than ever, it is critical to listen to their stories, remember their bravery and share their message with future generations. december 7, 1941. the japanese military launched a surprise attack on the american naval fleet at pearl harbor. after 90 minutes of battle, nearly 200 u.s. aircraft were destroyed. 2,402 americans were killed. over 1 2rks 00 more were wounded. the next day the u.s. officially declared war. >> december 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy.
the united states of america was suddenly and deliberately attacked. >> everyday life in america changed dramatically. young boys became men and went to war. communities mobilized and women went to work outside the home. for nearly four years u.s. service members taught some of the bloodiest and fost most infamous battles. the t battle of hidway was only six months after the attack on pearl harbor. the u.s. derailed japan's offense. june 6, 1944, the allied forces began to liberate europe from nazi germany. >> 11,000 allied planes were in the air. the fighters keeping the german air force on the ground while the bombers saturated nazi strongholds.
naval guns pounded the shores. >> the german army sought to turn the tide. after six weeks of fieging the allied forces triumphed. hitler committed suicide and germany surrendered. it would take 4 months for japan to do the same after the u.s. dropped bombs on hiroshima and n nagasaki. some 15 million returned home.
this past veterans day our country's old ohhest known service member from world war ii was honored with a standing ovation at arlington national cemetery. 107-year-old richard overton returned home where he was greeted with cheers, handshakes and hugs. just one of the ways a hoemetow and a nation pays respect to those who changed the course of history. my next guest is a member of the greatest generation. just 17 years old when he joined the marines and fought in the battle of okinawa. more than a quarter million u.s. troops were engaged and the allied forces lost 12,000 men in a battle that lasted more than two months. dr. bruce hielman became chancellor of the university of richmond. thank you for your service.
thank you so much for being here. what does it mean the to you, sir, to see as we now are at t a point where we have only 1 million remaining in the greatest generation in terms of vets who served? >> it represents to me that the world has changed dramatically. as i reflect back upon those 15 million you mentioned that came out of the military en masse and went off to be educated and came back into the political scene, the business scene, the community activities in force for the next 40 years they ran this country. six of the t presidents of the united states had been in this great greatest generation.
the states, governors, almost all of them were of the greatest generation and for 40 years, their culture prevailed. they worked together irrespective of different political motivations. they were able to pull together to make the country a bet witer place. they had fought to preserve freele dom and believe deeply in it. to me that really has moved on so others have taken over the running of the country. we think it is stable but no better than these veterans were able to do it on their own after having brought freedom to the world. >> as someone who put his life on the line for our freedom do you feel the freedom, liberty is taken for granted by many in today's generation? >> i think of the current generation, it is taken for
granted. the million who remained from the greatest generation still don't take it for granted. we are deep believers in patriotism. as we go back to the places we fought as young men and this is part of what the greatest generation foundation does. we reflect and remember and give thanks that for 70 years some of us that fought the battles that long ago have been able to come back in this great country, have children, raise a family, have grandchildren, great grandchildren, many of us educated on the g.i. bill, to sefb the country. we are proud of our service, proud of the country. we wonder whether the generations of today are as proud as we are who feel as strongly about it and would defend it as greatly though we have every hope that would be
true. >> i know your foundation takes veterans back and gives them a chance to pay homage to those who were lost and to their own service and memories. you say one of the reasons you do it is to confirm that it was not a dream. what does that mean? >> to use my own example as many others would feel the same way, i was 18 years old when i landed in combat on okinawa. this followed 56 days aboard a troop ship after a lot of training being out in the harbor of okinawa with suicide planes coming down, landing on the beach. 18 years old, i didn't know what was going to happen. i knew i was well trained as a marine. after having completed the battle of okinawa preparing to invade japan and change with the dropping of the atomic bomb
which almost made all the troops go berserk because it said to us we are going to live. we did not expect to survive. all of that was a part of the activities in the hearts and minds of the people who were there. we were young. we were inexperienced. each one of us who landed on the beach did not know the reality of war. we learned about it, but we went in there willing to die. not wanting to die but totally convinced that we were right and we still believe it today. when we go back, we see the rock, iwo jima. we see okinawa. we say to ourselves, it really happened 70 years ago. it wasn't a dream. >> i know that now you love to ride harleys. your wife gave you a second for your 71st birthday and for your 87th birthday you made the longest motorcycle trip yet.
here is to many more years, sir. thank you for your service and for sharing your memories. >> thank you. >> all the best. on the 40th anniversary of d-day then president ronald reagan gave a speech regarded as one of the greatest tributes to the bravery and sacrifice of the greatest generation. coming uh, the woman who helped him write the speech joins us live. plus, a form veterans speaks about his experience as a pri n prisoner of war. what does it mean to you? >> my life was worth it. i didn't waste my life. i served my country. the most important thing. ipping. fedex one rate. really makes my life easier. maybe a promotion is in order. good news. i got a new title.
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the world war ii memorial in washington, d.c. opened in 2004. it quickly became one of the most popular stops in a city packed with with museums and memorials. we went to visit the memorial and had the privilege of meeting a world war ii veteran by the name of major gerald geiger. you were a prisoner of war? >> yes, for 24 hours. >> reporter: how did you get out? >> we came under fire. my guards ran. i ran the other way. i flopped down. i figured if i played dead and they came back looking for me, maybe they would think i'm dead. they didn't come back.
so i made it back my troop. on the way i found weapons, ran into germans and captured them. >> wow. >> so you have to be young to do that. >> you're looking pretty good. all these decades later, do you remember it well? >> like it happened yesterday. some things you never forget. it's like a life in technicolor. it's always there. >> reporter: what does it mean to you? >> it means that my life was worth it. i didn't waste my life. i served my country. the most important thing is to serve my country. i did that. i'm grateful for the opportunity. >> what did it feel like to be living in this country at a time when it was so united and the country was behind you? >> oh, i could write you a book about that. we were all one, you know?
we wanted to learn and we were eager to learn and to apply the knowledge. nowadays i notice maybe some people aren't that willing to learn from the older generation. it's a generational thing. but we didn't have this smart ass attitude. we were willing to learn and we learned. we have respect for our parents. we obeyed. when mother called me, i came -- or else. >> when you see, for example, the fre dom wall. each one meant to represent 100 deaths in world war ii. for those, they were friends, buddi buddies. >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: do you remember those guys? >> i have their pictures. of course i remember them. i have written a legacy for my grandchildren. all these people are in there.
the pictures, the names and everything. i have the yearbook support. these people are all alive with me. i will never forget them. these are the heroes, you see. the heroeses are the ones we couldn't bring back and the ones who are wheelchairs now. the rest of us are survivors. i'm not a hero. i'm a survivor. >> you're 89 years old. many years from now when it's your turn to go. >> sure. >> what do you want people to say about you? >> he did his duty. he served his country. that's all. >> major, thank you so much, sir. pleasure. >> thank you, ma'am. >> thank you for your service. see you next time. >> god bless him. he told me to move on which is the irish pronunciation of me megyn. from witness to war which records first hand stories from come t bat veterans, we can
certainly see why you have chosen to do that. just meeting folks like the major helps you realize that there will come a time on this earth sadly in the not too distant future when we are no longer able to talk to these guys one on one. >> absolutely. we want to capture the stories like they are lost forever. >> as someone who immersed yourself in this, what do you take away? we heard that it's like a film strip. like a movie to think back on what happened. both talked about wanting to be remembered for their sacrifice and understanding that their life was worth something. >> well, one of the things i want to assure them are there are younger folks who is care. we have a foundation and a team of volunteers focused on
capturing the stories. our mission is to make sure future generations don't forget, that they have a place to go on the web to hear the voices and stories of what it was like to be there and the sacrifices. to really understand the price paid for our freedom. >> they poboth talked about wanting the younger generation to know about the sacrifice and to learn from the attitude they had. men and women that served during world war ii had. major geiger said we didn't have a smart ass t attitude back in the day. i heard a hope, a wish that we could somehow return to that. somehow return to a nation that respects its elders and perhaps is more humble in their own approach to life and those who came before them. >> well, there is no question that things have changed. one of the things i enjoyed about meeting so many of the great veterans, and we have
interviewed over a thousand, mostly world war ii. it is a different generation. there is a level of respect and humility and out of 1,000 gentlemen i have interviewed, men and women, i have yet to meet one that's arrogant. they are humble and appreciate the fact they had the experience. most wouldn't want to repeat it. they are certainly glad they were able to do their duty. >> that describes most of the men and women in the military in general. even present day. i want to ask you. you are preserving the stories but how do people access them? >> we perform video interviews with world war ii, korea, iraq and afghanistan vets. our sense of urgency is around world war ii and korea. we performed them to hd and are moving to broadcast video. we give a free dvd to the family. we break it down to two to five-minute war storieses. we do it so they are more consumable for the media savvy
generation. we put them on witnesstowar.org. we have three 3,000 or 4,000 video war storieses detailing the heroics and the humorous events and everything that occurred over this bloody war. >> thank you for doing this and thanks for coming on. >> it's an honor to be here and an honor to have had the opportunity to meet these gentlemen. >> all the best. while witness to war depre serves the stories of warld world war ii we'll look at the group that helped vets travel to the memorial, dedicated to them and their fallen comed are as and see why a simple trip means so much to the one who sacrificed. >> excellent. a beautiful flight. the crew did a fantastic job. in fact, the whole experience has been great. crust that's made from scratch. or mix vegetables with all white meat chicken and homemade gravy. but marie callender's does. just sit down and savor. marie callender's. it's time to savor.
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there were 16 million american men and women who served in world war ii. in fact, today one of every four americans over age 75 is a veteran. many of them are here today. they are surrounded by 56 beautiful granite columns meant to symbolize the 48 states in the time in addition to the seven territories and the district of columbia which stood together in an unprecedented showing of wartime unity. by the time that was dedicated in 20042000 of the veterans were too ill, too old or too poor to see it. the following year a man in ohio who worked with aging veterans did something about it. he asked one of the patients if it would be all right if he flew him to d.c. to see the memorial. that man broke down and cried and accepted the offer. that moment led to the founding of what's known as the honor flight network. this group provides free travel
for veterans to d.c. to see their memorial. our camera crews were in d.c. when an honor flight arrived with a group of veterans on boardful watch. >> i started out here in baltimore back in '44. it's great to be home. >> i wasn't for coming down to washington. i have seen everything but this memorial. now i have tears in my eyes. i can't say enough. >> i have been wanting to see this all my life. i'm very pleased wit. >> very impressive. >> i met a lot of good people, made a lot of friends. we're getting short of veterans. they're dying. every time i get a newsletter, it's full of people that have left us. >> i am very fortunate because i am 91 years old.
>> i'm just one of the lucky ones. i made it home. went to arlington, saw the cemeteries and i count my blessings every day. >> i think the worst time i had was when we got attacked by german u-boats. i was only a kid of 16. kind of scared me a little bit. >> we have so many unknowns. there's not one veteran. it's a number of them. every one. >> today we are all old. we appreciate everything that's gone on. behind us and forward. just looking forward to a brighter world today. >> the goal of the honor flight network is to make sure every veteran whether from world war ii, korean war or vietnam gets
to see their memorial in washington. so far they have helped over 100,000 vets do that. later this hour we'll introduce you to a special woman. mary louise kelly, a nurse who helped care for severely injured soldiers in world war ii. she'll share the amazing story of how that experience reshaped her life. when it comes to paying tribute to veterans, few have done it as beautifully as president reagan on the 40th anniversary of d-day. his incredible speech and a one on one with the woman who worked with him on it, just ahead. peggy noonan shares her memories of the day president reagan delivered one of his most famous speeches. >> behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the daggers thrust into the top of these cliffs. before me are the men who put them there. these are the boys.
june 6, 1984. it was 40 years after the invasion of normandy. to commemorate that day and those men president reagan went to the spot where a group of army rangers scaled cliffs under intense enemy fire and, as he put it, helped end a war. the president t spoke in front of some of the very rangers. here is a portion of the t address considered by some to be one of the great speeches in ho dern history. -- modern history. >> here in normandy the rescue began. here the allies stood and fought in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history . their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion. to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the
enemy guns. the allies had been told some of the mightest of the guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the allied advance. these are the boys of pointe du hoc. [ applause ] these are the men who took the cliffs. these are the champions who helped free a continent. these are the heroes who helped end a war. 40 summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. you were young the day you took these cliffs. some of you were hardly more than boys with the deepest joys of life before you. yet you risked everything here. why? why did you do it? what impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? what inspired all the men of the
armies that met here? we look at you and somehow we know the answer. it was faith and belief. it was loyalty and love. the men of oh normandy had faith that what they were doing was right faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just god would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. it was the deep knowledge and pray god we have not lost it that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. you were here to liberate, not to conquer. so you and those others did not doubt your cause. you were right not to doubt. you all knew some things are worth dying for. one's country is worth dying for. and democracy is worth dying for because it is the most deeply
honorable form of government ever devised by man. all of you loved liberty. all of you were willing to fight tyranny. you knew the people of your countries were behind you. here in this place where the west held together let us make a vow to our dead. let show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. let our actions say to them the words which matthew ridgeway listened. i will not fail thee nor forsake thee. strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died. thank you very much. god bless you all. [ applause ]
>> peggy noonan worked on that speech with president reagan. she joins me now live. do you still get chills when you listen to that? >> yeah, actually. >> the way he brought the very men before him to tears. he later said that they looked like elderly businessmen sitting there that day but these were the kids who climbed the cliffs. >> mm-hmm. >> this is one of the first times a president in modern history paid this sort of tribute to what we now know is the greatest generation. >> president president reagan was very eager to celebrate the old fellows who had been young boys 40 years before, who had taken the cliffs, who were hepburns of the u.s. army rangers. president reagan wanted very much to sort of get his hands around and lift up a generation
that until that point had not been completely, celebrated as this wonderful generation that fought and won world war ii. 16 million of them served in the u.s. armed forces during world war ii and who also got through the depression before that. that was some of the vibration behind the speech. >> before he was president he was governor of california. in the late '60s and early '70s at a time when treatment of the veterans in the country coming back tr vietnam, the vietnam conflict itself was very heated and controversial. >> he wanted to the send a message about the military and the veterans. >> that speech took place in 1984. ten years before in 1974. the vietnam war had ended and the members of the u.s. military were not being treated with so much respect and hadn't really
gotten their due from the people of the united states for almost a generation reagan was determined to turn that around. he had great respect for those who had fought in vietnam. he felt they had not been fully appreciated. he was governor when the prisoners of war, the hanoi hilton fellows. when the u.s. prisoners of war from sigh gan and elsewhere were freed reagan came and welcomed them and had them over to the governor's mansion. he was keen on getting greater appreciation for the u.s. military from the american people. he succeeded. >> yet that speech, as much as it's known for the tribute it paid to the veteranses at the time is also known for being clever because at the time it was 1984. it was a speech within a speech. explain that. >> the text of the speech, the thing that was said was, look, civilized nations of the west,
look what you did 40 years ago when you held together, joined together. you defeated a terrible tyranny called hitler's germany. that's what the speech is. underneath that, reagan was saying to all the gathered leaders of the west who were there that day, guys, look what your parents and grandparents did. if we hold together as they did we are going to defeat together the tyranny of our time. that's soviet communism. by lauding the world war ii generation reagan was trying to inspire those who now still had to hold. the berlin wall had not tallen. to push that wall over. so he consciously, i think used that speech to say, look what we did last time. we can still do it. >> the words are beautiful when you hear him speak them. he was known as the great communicator. you helped with that. you helped with the wording. did he ever come back and say, i nailed that one.
you know? did you ever have a post-mortem on the addresses he gave and how they went? >> >> ronald reagan was funny. you would think having been in show business he would talk that way. i nailed it, i owned that room. >> stuff like that. >> never that i saw. he was amazingly modest. he had a lot of humility. he didn't brag about his ability to get people. he felt there was a communion going on. he didn't brachlgt he was a fellow that had an ego that didn't brag. >> thank you very much for being here. >> thank you. >> president reagan may have brought the greatest generation to tears. coming up, why some of the vets from that era say they are more concerned about what our troops are facing today.
as our special "saluting the greatest generation" continues. there are hidden treasures here from handwritten notes left for loved ones who served to a little guy named kilroy, a little man looking over a wall. there are two of them and people are supposed to find them as they come to visit. it was an inside joke among the service personnel. they drew them in the atlantic and then the pacific theaters, supposedly named after a german super spy. here we see him on the back side of the memorial.
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sleep number. comfort individualized. the memorial gets over 4 million visitors a year. it was built in 2004, 59 years after world war ii ended. you can see two 43-foot pavilionses, one for the atlantic and one for the pacific on opposite sides of the rainbow pool in honor of the american troops who died in world war. despite the loss of life many look back on their service as something special that helped shape their lives. while their memories may have endured some of the famed vets are more concerned about today's soldiers and that that they may be worse with off. >> being in the service is
something special. today the young kids that were in there have got it very, very bad. like they say, war is hell. you don't want to look back on them as bad times. you want to look back on it as good times. you learn. you profit from it. a lot of people look back and they hate it. i look back, it's something that brought me through life. experience life. being a better person. made me much better, i'm sure of that. >> i had the chance to speak with one of today's combat veterans. ceo of concerned veterans for america. pete, what about that? you have been deployed three times since 9/11. do you look back on it and hate
it, love it? >> it's a mixed feeling. there is a sense of purpose, the mission you have, the country you are defending. a difficult tax, complex situations. but he's right. you look back on the good stuff. even the difficult stuff you realize what you were in the middle of, what you were attempting to do, how significant it was. and how important it was. i concur with that. you look back and what you did was difficult. >> how about the first veteran who said he's worried your generation had it rough. >> i look at the world war ii generation and he says i have had it rough? this is a guy who deployed against the biggest, baddest military the worlds has ever seen. to defeat hitler's army, the
greatest on the planet at that time. we did one-year tours. you didn't do a one-year tour in world war ii. you were in until you were killed, captured, or the mission was complete. >> good point. >> not to take away from today but you were there for the duration. >> you were far away without the ability really at all to communicate with loved ones at home. >> a very difficult situation for the service member and the family. i can go to iraq or afghanistan, dial up skype at a call center and call my family. my grandmother whose husband was in a world war ii was in germany for two months before they heard from him. that was in a written letter. the uncertainty, impatience is another level from what vets of today experience. when you're not talking to folks back home it's easier to be focused on what you are doing but it's difficult.
i wouldn't juan to be deployed under those circumstances. >> do you feel we are losing something? not respect for the military but a love of the military? back in world war ii it seemed like the country rallied behind them. you know, all of the states, everybody was behind the mission because it seemed clear what we theeded to do. we are dwieed today. that carried over. certainly not in vietnam and to some extent. >> there is a reverence around the world war ii generation. part of the reason i joined, i don't come from a military family. i used to sit on the curb and watch the veterans day, memorial day parade. with the veterans who would get the standing ovation. people say, they did something. they saved the world. we are proud of what they did. we have unlearned a lot of the lessons of vietnam but relearned them for vets of our generation. some of that is back. these are the guys who saved the
world, left everything behind, lost 400,000. we lost almost 5,000 in our generation. not to take away from that, but think of the scale and scope of 400,000 families and communities who gave so much. there is a cost of freedom with world war ii. >> yet you fought after 3,000 americans were killed on domestic soil. you and others like you fought for our country and what we stand for. it is similar in many ways to world war ii. happily, as you point out, with respect to our iraq and afghanistan veterans it seems there's been a turn since vietnam. some lessons were learned by most people. there was a story recently about a bunch of marines coming back from afghanistan. not only were there makeshift tributes performed for them because they had a stop over but all of the passengers gave up every one of their seats so the marines could sit.
>> i get chills. to me that's an example of citizens who get it. i try to do the same thing. i have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old boy. every time i see a world war ii veteran i try to take a photo. i want them to touch that and understand that piece of history, how significant it was. i have taken photos of world war ii vets every chance i get because of what they did and what it means. >> any vet, pay it forward. pete, thank you very much. >> thanks, megyn. >> up next, the war from a different perspective as we talk with one of the hundreds of thousands of women who helped in the fight for our country's freedom. >> war casualty lists are growing. more doctors and nurses are drawn from our home front to meet the emergency at our understaffed hospitals, red cross is training patriotic volunteers as nurses' aides. more are needed in civilian and army hospitals, particularly for
over 400,000 women served in warld war two in noncombat roles from pilots to postal workers to nurses. one of them was mary louise kelly. >> she was a nurse for five years outside of london. she took care of a lot of soldiers and brought them back home safe. >> i cried. i didn't blame them. we will get you back to the united states. >> they said there were so many
casualties. they don't remember when day turned to night. i don't think people realized she did go through some military training and she was a professional nurse. and the service that she provided, the troops when [ applause ] >> marilouise. she is a young 96 years old. [ cheers ] >> she's appreciative people recognize the years she spent in the war taking care of the troops. >> we honor her service as well. if you are a veteran of world war ii, share your story with the viewers. more on that right after the break. [ male announcer ] introducing new fast acting advil.
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we are not going to negotiate under the threat to our families of a prolonged shutdown until republicans get 100% of what they want. >> don't be dictating to america that they are going to shut down the government. let's vote on it. >> the president would rather default than sit down and negotiate. really? >> does the nsa collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of americans? >> no, sir. >> the fact is we have four dead americans. was it becau