From its inception, the United States of America has always welcomed those seeking liberty, freedom and a new life. We’re a compassionate people, but we do ask folks who come here to live the American dream. We respect other cultures, faiths, beliefs and lifestyles, but we do have an expectation that folks live up to e pluribus Unum.
Here is the story of an exceptional person whose American dream began behind bars.
Thomas “Drago” Dzieran was born in Poland while under communist rule and later spent almost 2 years in a communist gulag as a political prisoner for his activism against communism.
As reported by WCNC.com. It was the early 1980’s, before the Berlin wall fell. The U.S. was still in a Cold War with the then-USSR. At the age of 24, he came to the U.S. as a political refugee. “I came to America. I didn’t speak English, and I had only bag of clothes with me,” he said with a thick accent.
“This country gave me so much, and I felt it was my obligation to fight for my newfound freedom. I enlisted in the Navy in 1991.” I have been fighting for and defending freedom my entire life. I owe all that I have to America, the greatest country in the world.
But he didn’t stop there.
“I knew what I was doing. I knew what I wanted to do,” he said. “I didn’t go there to ‘try’ to become a Navy SEAL, I went to BECOME a Navy SEAL.”
“This country gave me so much, and I felt it was my obligation to fight for my newfound freedom. I enlisted in the Navy in 1991.”
I have been fighting for and defending freedom my entire life. I owe all that I have to America, the greatest country in the world.”
Drago came to America and didn’t feel “entitled” — although he came with next to nothing. Drago embodies President John F. Kennedy’s mantra, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” And so Drago did — he became an elite American Warrior, served in combat, and continues to serve to this day.
Drago supports the Navy SEALS fund, a charity run by former SEALs to help injured SEALs and their families. () “There are many SEALs who don’t retire from the Navy,” said Dzieran. “They leave after 10 years, 8 years .. often due to injury, and they do not have the support normally they would get if they retired from the Navy. So we step in and we fill that gap.” A SEAL must serve 20 years before retiring with benefits, like he did. Many don’t.”
There’s something very special about the Band of Brothers who’ve experienced that crucible of armed conflict. There’s a bond not just between those modern day Spartans but also with the families. And what a shame that these private sector organizations must continue to defend the honor of our Warriors and their families because our Veterans Administration fails to do so.
What I find so commendable about Drago is that his life didn’t begin here in the “land of the free.” But once he got here he decided he wanted to be part of the “home of the brave.” We should demand this not only of those who come to our shores from far away lands seeking liberty; we should demand this of ourselves, the native born Americans. Too often we find we’re the ones who dismiss and take liberty for granted. That’s why the story of Thomas Dzieran must be told from sea to shining sea. His pride and commitment to this Constitutional Republic should resonate with all of us and be a beacon illuminating us in these dark times.
Let me share with you Drago’s own words: “Everything I have, everything I own… I owe to America. Now I have a wonderful family, and everything I need to live, and most important — I am free man. I live in the country of free and brave and I’m proud to be part of it. I’m just American. Proud.”
Remember back in 2008 when Michelle Obama stated, “People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback. For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country … not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.”
Well, I’m not sure which country she was living in, because it’s certainly not the America Drago embraced.
Thomas “Drago” Dzieran is an American. He is a proud American, an American Warrior. His love of America comes from knowing what it means to not have freedom. There are many profiles in courage, but doggone, it just doesn’t get any better than a man who came to America after being a political prisoner and became a U.S. Navy SEAL!
Hooyah, Bravo Zulu Sailor! You are what it means to be an American!