BRETT: One of the most incredible aspects of what Rush was, was his humility, his grace, and his ability to recognize the heroes that are walking around among us, the heroes who have impacted our lives though we may not even be aware of that. We’re sort of continuing on this journey of the theme of Rush’s impact on so many lives, especially those in our armed forces.
He took a call back in November of 2005, and it was a call that was remarkable. Rush is talking about a story in which he met wounded soldiers from Walter Reed while attending a National Review party as William F. Buckley Jr.’s guest and had an encounter that he has shared over the years. Let’s listen to that conversation.
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RUSH: This is Sergeant Clay calling from the U.K., the United Kingdom. Welcome, Sergeant, to the program. It’s an honor to have you with us.
CALLER: Oh, my gosh! Hey, Rush. Professor Limbaugh, mega-mega-megadittos if ever such a thing there could be. We owe it all to you, brother. I just wanted to call and to let you know. I’ve been listening to you since 1989, and I’ve been a Dittohead since then, and we just so much appreciate all that you do for us in the military and for this great nation.
RUSH: Uh, you know, I… I get… I am… I don’t… I’m speechless every time somebody like you calls and tells me this, because I’ll tell you a little story. National Review magazine had their 50th anniversary bash in Washington about three weeks ago, three or four weeks ago, and I went to it as Mr. Buckley’s guest, and they had a bunch of wounded soldiers from Walter Reed as their guests.
RUSH: And a bunch of these guys came up to me and started saying thank you to me, for what I do, and I… You know, I put my hands up and I said, “You know, I appreciate it, but you guys are sort of embarrassing me.” Because look it, one guy had lost an eye, and he was not wearing an eye patch, and he had stitches over half of his mouth.
RUSH: These guys had been really severely wounded and here’s this guy thanking me, and I said, “What I do is nothing. I sit behind a microphone and I talk,” and —
CALLER: Rush? Rush, if I may?
RUSH: Well, but he admonished me, and he said, “Look, we all have our role to play here, man.”
CALLER: That’s right, as he should have done.
RUSH: Well, he did, but I — I still… Look, I’m not trying to deflect your thanks. I’m just —
RUSH: It sort of humbles me is what I’m telling you, and I appreciate it.
CALLER: Well, Rush, if I may continue then in that measure of humility that you’re experiencing, you know, I think probably William F. Buckley said the same thing to you — or you said the same thing to him that I’m about to say to you, and that is I don’t think ever that you should underestimate the measure of influence that you have on this nation’s providers of the faith of freedom and democracy, sir.
You have to realize, and I know you do, that Winston Churchill was a great orator, as was my hero, which is Ronald Reagan. I was 18 years old when he came into office and he inspired me to do that beyond which I thought I could ever do, and that is simply this: That a nation without hope, a people without hope, are just the living dead, the walking dead — and sir, with all my heart, I have to extend the gratitude of my fellow warriors.
I served in Afghanistan, I served in Uzbekistan, and when I saw that you came to visit us, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and hope — and hope, Rush, is what extends freedom and democracy across the globe. You can kill us with bombs and bullets, but what our enemy fails to understand is that this nation, by virtue of people such as yourself… What you provide for us is hope — and you cannot kill hope with bombs and bullets and terrorist activity. You cannot. You cannot kill hope, period — and I think that Winston Churchill understood us.
The greatest nation — I should say the Greatest Generation, I’m sorry — that ever lived, they understood that, and you provide that hope, Rush, and I pray to God with all of my heart that you’ll never underestimate what you do for us, because what you do for us — that is, us in the military — extends to what you do for this nation, and that is that you provide us with hope.
You give us a compass by which we travel. You just do so much for us, Rush, and you’ve done it for my family and I — and, in fact, my daughter’s husband… She’s 23, and her husband after 9/11 joined the Air Force and he’s stationed over here. He’s presently deployed on a forward mission. But your inspiration even touched him.
And I just don’t ever want you to lose sight of what you mean to us, what you mean to this nation, and the pride of the providers of the faith of freedom and democracy. Sir, my hat is off to you, and we will continue to fight beyond the circumference of the politics and the politicians and all of the garbage that they spew out.
We don’t watch them, Rush. We do listen to you. I can remember when I was in the Army in 1996. After Khobar Towers, we were — my team was — sent over to southwest Asia, and I used to tune my SINCGARS radio in to a satellite (laughs) so I could hear you and get you and get that little shot of hope — and thank you, Rush, so much for what you do, sir.
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BRETT: An unbelievable connection between this man, half a world away — Sergeant Clay from the U.K. — and Rush Limbaugh and testimony to Rush for what he represents. That Greatest Generation had something to come back to. That Greatest Generation… Both my maternal and my paternal grandfather served in Asia during World War II, and they were fighting to come back home.
They were fighting to get the job done to come back to the United States, to come back to life, regular life, not an eternal war. And when Rush is either on Armed Forces Radio TV system, if he’s on the internet, if he’s on the satellite, if he’s on any of these things that these men and women are able to tune into, one thing that is readily apparent is: It’s a piece of home.
It’s a piece of where you want to get back to that you are living to get back to. And as he says, “They can’t kill us. They can kill us with bombs and bullets, but they can’t kill our country. They can’t kill our soul. They can’t kill who we are as a country.” And that, I think, is a very important thing.
One of the most poignant parts of Rush’s program was that he never gave up on America, never threw America under the bus, never said we really weren’t that special. He ever said we really don’t live up to this. He loved America! He loved the American people. He loved what people could accomplish putting their minds and hearts and souls into that endeavor, because he did it himself.
And it’s that kind of hope that gets somebody to want to come back, and not just come back from a deployment or from a war zone or from a foreign posting. It makes you want to come back when you’re down. In the first hour I mentioned the fact that it’s not lost on me that this program runs in many places either before, in the midst of, or just after the lunchtime hour.
And what Rush gave you was that little glimmer of hope that it would be okay, that Washington is not gonna totally torch this thing, that you could still do it even though you were feeling demoralized on a personal level, that you could be uplifted, and that you could hear other people calling that show — this show — and sharing their experiences. See, the tyrants, the statists, they want to make sure that you feel isolated.
“Oh, I’m crazy for thinking this. I shouldn’t believe this. This is not really how it should be,” and if they keep you isolated and they keep you worrying, it’s easy to get depressed and demoralized and down. It is an easy position to take up. It is a hard position to take up the position to stand up and believe in what you believe. Rush did it every single day.
Even the days he was sick and even the days he didn’t necessarily maybe feel like it, he stood and he fought for you and me, millions of people he would never meet but who knew him across the radio dial or through other means. And that is incredibly important. That is testimony to the great connection. That’s the testimony to the great connection, because it was like a beacon pointing the way forward even when you didn’t much feel like it.
And it will continue, and it will endure for a long, long time.