As I contemplate the ongoing struggles of the home school community, I am often reminded of the story of Captain Scott O’Grady, the pilot who was shot down over Bosnia in June of 1995 and rescued six days later. He and his wingman, the pilot in the plane beside him, were flying a mission in an area where no Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) were supposed to be. It should have been a routine flight with no problems. Intelligence had been received that SAMs were in the area, but the information did not reach the pilots.
Captain O’Grady’s fighter was blown apart, and his wingman did not see a parachute. Scott, however, was able to eject safely. As he floated to the earth, there were obviously many people watching. When he hit the ground, he immediately applied his training.
He got rid of his parachute, ran a short distance to a clump of bushes, and fell face down, covering his ears with his camouflaged, gloved hands. Only two minutes later, Bosnian soldiers came searching for him, firing their weapons. He later said that he did not think they were shooting at rabbits. Scott changed position only at night, proceeding to a place that would be a good landing spot for a rescue. For six days, he moved cautiously and survived on rain water and insects. He used his radio sparingly, trying to communicate to those seeking to rescue him; for five days there was no answer.
Finally on the sixth day, Scott asked the Lord to allow him to contact his friends and let them know that he was alive, so that they could possibly rescue him. That night, a pilot flew over, turning his engines on and off, trying to let Scott know that he was there. Scott contacted the pilot by radio and found it was a pilot he knew. They were now aware that Captain O’Grady was alive.
The high command then had to decide when to go in for O’Grady. If the rescue was launched immediately, the helicopters would arrive in broad daylight, much more dangerous than if they waited another day. The decision was made.Go now!
More than forty planes and helicopters were involved in the mission to get Captain O’Grady. Some were fighters flying cover. Others were helicopter gunships used to give cover to the helicopters that carried the Marine rescue squads. As the helicopters drew near during the early morning, Scott was contacted, and he marked his position with a smoke flare. The helicopter gunships hovered to provide protection as the helicopters with the Marines landed. Immediately, as the rescue choppers landed, Marines poured out and formed a perimeter facing outward to protect the landing zone. Scott came running from a clump of trees about fifty yards away and leaped into the helicopter. On the flight out, the helicopters received small arms fire from the ground. When the helicopters landed on the ship at sea, they found bullet holes in their blades and in other areas, but no one was wounded.
When Captain O’Grady returned to a hero’s welcome, he rejected the hero label. He said that the only reason he was alive that day was God’s love for him and his love for God. He had prayed often throughout those difficult days. He gave the credit for his survival to God and to the Marines who rescued him, sayingtheywere the real heroes.
I believe this story gives us as home educators a wonderful analogy of the home school community and our freedom to educate our children at home. If one were to try to determine who was responsible for Scott O’Grady’s miraculous rescue, the most obvious and correct answer isGod. God is also the one to whom we should look for our direction and freedom. He is in control.
However, Scott’s superiors were quick to point out that he knew what to do in that terrible situation, and he applied his training perfectly. Today many people decide to teach their children at home without knowing what they would do if a truant officer or CPS worker should challenge them. As home educators, we must prepare for worst-case situations so that we and our families know what to do in those circumstances.
Scott O’Grady was prepared; he was trained in survival skills, and he had the equipment required to accomplish his mission, which included his emergency radio. Without this training and equipment, he could not have received the help needed. In our analogy, the Texas Home School Coalition Association functions as the radio and as those who trained Scott in survival school. THSC provides that link of information, training, and emergency action that enables home schoolers to take the steps needed to protect their own freedom. Without that link, it is only a matter of time until disaster comes. Just as the pilots would have been able to avoid this whole situation had that vital bit of intelligence about the SAMs been delivered to them, so our freedom is dependent on intelligence delivered to our community at the appropriate time. THSC’s weeklyE-newsletteris designed to give that kind of information. Our various seminars, workshops, and our convention can be compared to Scott’s training. Our Web site and e-mail network provide the emergency link, just as Scott’s radio did. If you are not a part of the e-mail network, we encourage you to subscribe today. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added; we provide this service toallTexas home schoolers without charge.
Another group playing a big part in the rescue of Captain O’Grady was the Marines. The Marines have a motto,Semper Fidelis, meaning, “Always faithful.” They have a tradition of never leaving their own behind –dead or wounded. Like those brave, faithful, courageous Marines, home schoolers themselves are the ones who will rally to form the perimeter of protection for other home schoolers when their freedom is being attacked.
It is you, the home schoolers of Texas, by God’s grace and help, who will keep home education free in Texas. It happened on the day of the Austin TEA party in 1986. More than 4,000 people went to a public hearing of the State Board of Education (SBOE) to protest its attempt to regulate private and home schools. Five thousand home school “marines” met on the steps of the Capitol in Austin on the day the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Leeper case in 1993. In February 1994 more than 800,000 calls were received in Washington, D.C., effectively killing the attempt to outlaw home schooling in HR6. In April of 1997, the home school “marines” were responsible for preserving the right of parents to teach their own children to drive by defeating legislation to repeal that right in the Texas House.
Just as the Air Force is a vital link in our country’s defense, so THSC is to our home school freedom. The Texas Home School Coalition Association has been called the air force of the Texas home school community. Sometimes we need B52s for carpet-bombing, and sometimes it is helicopter gunships that are needed to provide protection from the air. Although we have an excellent law in Texas, when confronted by a public official who persists in pushing a home schooler with the power of the local school district or the state behind him, action must be taken.
THSC Association stands ready to sue in court when necessary to protect the home educator. In recent years the Association has threatened to sue CPS workers in Texas, which has led to better policies from that department. We regularly make sure that public school officials and others trying to impose unlawful demands on home school families understand that we are willing to take legal action. THSC Association also spent more than $10,000 in the last legislative session to guard and expand the right ofallTexas home school families to teach their children at home. THSC plays a vital role in protecting individual home schoolers and the home school community at large. If you are not a member of THSC Association, we strongly encourage you to join today and become part of our support system, which enables us to continue this important work.
Captain O’Grady is alive and serving his country today because God saved him. He is also alive because he and the military community did the jobs that they were trained to do. If the home school community will be prepared and then do the jobs we are trained to do, by God’s help, we, too, will keep the freedom that is so precious to us all.