- The Washington Times - Monday, February 6, 2012

In the space of time and history, we occasionally are graced by those who echo the virtue and good that restore our spirit, nourish our thirst for leadership and become steady reminders of right from wrong. They almost certainly have an innate moral compass that simply points the way forward.

President Reagan was such a man, and it was our nation’s good fortune that with him came another noble soldier and compatriot of freedom and democracy: Tony Blankley.

Mr. Blankley was a hero. He was the embodiment of all that is good among the “English-speaking peoples.” As a native Briton who adopted America as his country, he understood the values upon which both these cherished nations were formed. He understood the enlightened concept of the “pursuit of happiness” and, more important, the necessary sacrifices required in that concept’s defense.

Ever vigilant of the disease of complacency and the larceny of truth by illiberal forces, Mr. Blankley used words as a constant reminder of the good of the American way and the shadow of tyranny always willing to test it.

The words in his office on a Churchill poster - “Deserve victory” - took one’s breath away. Those words infused the landing on Inchon, South Korea, the ascent at Pointe du Hoc, France, the raising of the colors on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima and the crossing of the Delaware. It is this spirit for which Tony was heroic. He would not succumb to denial of this reality by weaker and insular or smug minds.

Whether it was the house-to-house battles in Fallujah, Iraq, or with outnumbered Navy SEALs in the warrens and caves of Afghanistan, Tony understood the defense of freedom. The spoken and written word were his chosen weapons of defense, for he understood in his typical, understated way that just like his depiction of the homestead as a child actor in programs like “Lassie,” nothing was possible without the yearning to defend our freedom.

Tony lived this fight, but as his colleague and Washington Times editor Brett M. Decker is fond of saying, “He always did so as a gentleman. Tony never lost regard for his fellow man.”

I did not know Tony’s family, but the kinship I feel for his family members now is just as real as if we were all old friends, for Tony’s bond with the American people was so great that the loss of him is ours to mourn with his loved ones. All the while, we celebrate a life as it was meant to be lived.

Whatever one’s beliefs, this is a nation blessed by God, and as sure as we sit here honoring the name of the Lord Almighty, surely everyone will most certainly acknowledge Tony’s ascent into heaven.

God speed, our friend. Rest in peace.

ROBERT F. AGOSTINELLI

London