In May 1996, ValuJet flight 592 crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing 110 passengers. Navy experts tried using special technology to detect the plane’s black box, without success. Holding a rope that kept them spaced three feet apart, searchers poked through every square foot of muck. After fourteen days they had found nothing. The physical conditions were unbearable. The sun beat down upon them and temperatures hovered in the nineties. Diesel fuel and caustic hydraulic fluid floated in the water, forcing searchers to wear several layers of protective rubber. Fourteen days of that had left them exhausted, but they had to find the black box. Sergeant Felix Jimeniz of Metro-Dade Police was one of the searchers. For fourteen days he’d prayed for the bereaved families and the safety of his fellow workers. But on the fifteenth day as he took a break, suddenly he realized he’d failed to pray for one important thing: that God would help them find the black box. So he asked God for direction, resumed the search, and when he stuck his pole into the water he hit something metallic. He pulled the object out of the muck. It was the black box. Jimeniz writes in Guideposts: “I thought of the many days we had spent searching for the recorder, how we must have tramped over it many times, and I wondered why its retrieval had taken so long. Amid the low rustle of the sawgrass and the call of the wild heron, I seemed to hear the response: “Why did it take so long for you to ask?”
I just want to take a monent to express my gratitude, my respect and admiration for you, and your families, for your continued service, and the faithful carrying out of your duty. Most of all my heart-felt sorrow for those of you who have lost loved ones in service to our country. There are no words to truly express the debt our country owes you and your families. Your courage, your willingness to sacrifice, to give all on behalf of our country and it’s citizen’s deserves no less than the highest praise we can give.
If it were up to me, every single one of you who has served our military, and your famlies would be given the absolute best that we’re capable of giving you in every way possible. The best housing, education, equipment, training, and care that can be provided to you. You deserve no less, and I am personally ashamed of our country and it’s leadership for failing to not only provide those things, but for failing to give you clear direction in the carrying out of your goals and objectives when deployed. You are worthy of great leadership, and the fact that you have served with honor and dignity those undeserving of your commitment only elevates and speaks eloquently to the faithful execution of your duty.
To those of you who have been spit upon, maligned, treaded upon by those who aren’t deserving of the freedom you’ve sacrificed to give them, I apologize on their behalf. To all of you and your families, I thank you. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day, and stand in my estimation as shining examples of what makes America great.