Tickets available for speech today

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

Today is the last day to reserve tickets for the Troy Exchange Club's One Nation Under God luncheon, set of noon Thursday.

The luncheon features Rear Adm. Jeremiah Denton (ret.), a Mobile native who was a prisoner of war during Vietnam and later served as U.S. Senator from Alabama.

"We're expecting a good crowd," said Diane Aman, who's coordinating the luncheon for the club.

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"Having read his biography, he has an awesome story and if anyone's not familiar with it they will not want to miss hearing from a man who has sacrificed so much for our nation," she said.

"That, combined with his strong belief in God, should be motivation enough for people to attend. I'd encourage everyone to obtain a free ticket and join us," Aman added.

Denton's name first came to the attention of the American public in 1966, during a television interview arranged by the North Vietnamese in Hanoi. He had been tortured prior to the interview and threatened with more torture if he didn't not respond properly during the interview.

During that interview, he responded to a question about his support of U.S. policy with "Š whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, I support it and I will support it as long as I live."

With his eyes, he blinked Morse code for "T-O-R-T-U-R-E."

He was released in February 1973 and returned to Clark Air Force Base in the Phillipines.

Exchange Club Treasurer Otis Stone was there when Denton stepped off the plane.

"It was a great day for our nation, and Jeremiah Denton said that the POWs were honored to be able to serve their country in that manner," he said.

Denton went on to author a book with Ed Brandt that chronicled the Denton's Vietnam experience, retired from the Navy and in 1981 become the first Republican U.S. Senator from Alabama to be elected by popular vote. Other distinctions include being the first senator from Mobile, the first Catholic in the state to be elected to statewide office, and the first admiral or general to be elected to the Senate by any state.

He served six years and was appointed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan as chairman of the Presidential Commission on Merchant Marine and Defense.

In 1981, Denton founded the National Forum Foundation, dedicated to issues regarding the concept of One Nation under God, the institution of the family, welfare reform and peacekeeping and humanitarian affairs.

The program gets under at 11:45 at the Holiday Inn. Tickets, which are free to the public, may be obtained by calling Stone at 566-2620, or Mark Jordan or Diane Aman at 566-4000.