Break the Chain Chico and the Man

Created 11/19/2001 (11/19/2001) Many have come forward since the events of September 11 to suggest America "invited" the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by weakening our armed forces. It's a common sentiment has let to many 'adopt-an-opinion' chain letters like this one.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Subject: You are the Strength of America

I know that this is a long read, but I promise you it is well worth it.

Brian Shul... A Vietnam era USAF fighter pilot, 212 combat missions, shot down near the end of the war and was so badly burned that he was given next to no chance to live. Did live, went on to fly SR-71s and completed a 20 year career in the Air Force. Has written four books on aviation and runs a photo studio.

Chico, California Rally Address

Thank you for the opportunity to address this rally today. It is not often that a fighter pilot is asked to be the keynote speaker. There is a rumor that they are unable to put two sentences together coherently. I'd like to dispel that rumor today by saying that I can do that, and in fact that I have written several books. I always wanted to be an author, and I ARE one now.

I'm a pretty lucky person really. I'm like the little boy who tells his father that when he grows up he wants to be a jet pilot, and his father replies, "Sorry son, you can't do both". I made that choice a long time ago and flew the jets. I was fortunate to live my dream, and then some. I survived something I shouldn't have, and today, tell people that I am 28 years old, as it has been that long since I was released from the hospital. It was like I received a second life, and in the past 28 years, I have gotten to see and do much, so much that I would not have thought possible. Returning to fly jets in the Air Force, flying the SR-71 on spy missions, spending a year with the Blue Angels, running my own photo studio.... and so much more. And now, seeing our country attacked in such a heinous way.

Some of you here today have heard me speak before, and know that I enjoy sharing my aviation slide show. I have brought no slides to show you, as I feel compelled today, to address different issues concerning this very difficult time in our nation's history.

I stand before you today, not as some famous person, or war hero. I am far from that. You know, they say a good landing is one you can walk away from, and a really great one is when you can use the airplane again. Well, I did neither.........and I speak to you to today as simply a fellow American citizen.

Like you, I was horrified at the events of September 11th. But I was not totally surprised that such a thing could happen, or that there were people in the world who would perpetrate such deeds, willingly, against us. Having sat through many classified briefings while in the Air Force, I was all too aware of the threat, and I can assure you, it has always been there in one form or another. And those of you who have served in the defense of this nation, know all too well the response that is needed. In every fighter squadron I was in, there was a saying that we knew to be true, that said, when there was a true enemy, you negotiate with that enemy with your knee in his chest and your knife at his throat...

(FULL TEXT OMITTED)

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

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Brian Shul wrote this speech in November 2001, the day before he was to speak at a patriotic rally sponsored by Rotary groups in the Chico, California area. It was a good thing, too, since a scheduling mix-up found Shul being rushed to the podium an hour earlier than expected. He worked from his notes and the speech he gave is the one circulating via e-mail. Shul explains the origins of this chain letter and its effects on him:

"The Chico speech was real, and [the] transcript [given in the chain letter] is completely accurate. Little did I know how popular that talk would be, and how many people would see it across the internet. [The chain letter] started when several people at the dinner after my talk asked me for a transcript, which I e-mailed to them.

"Because of it, people have asked me to come and speak at locations all over the country. I do a lot of public speaking every year, and I know that that particular talk has been the main reason some groups have called me. I put the entire transcript of my Veterans Day talk last year on my website [www.sleddriver.com], which I actually thought was a better talk, but the Chico one still seems to be the one everyone sees. "

Though Shul says he is "happy to have it circulated if people enjoy it," BreakTheChain.org recommends against forwarding any e-mailed copy of someone else's work, even with that author's permission. The potential for alteration is just too high. Shul feels the Veteran's Day speech posted on his site is better than this one, anyway, so why not send friends there instead? Break this chain!

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References: None

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