Joseph Sabino Mistick: The courage of patriot Alexander Vindman
With all the talk out there about making America great again, here’s a happy story that shows that America has never lost its greatness, in spite of what the naysayers and crackpots want us to believe. It comes along just when we all could use a little boost.
Identical twin boys — Alexander and Yevgeny — were born in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Their mother died when they were young, and once the Soviets lifted the ban on emigration, their father brought them and their older brother and grandmother to America.
As Jewish refugees, they left with a suitcase and whatever cash they could gather, looking for a better life, just like all refugees. When they got here, they settled among other immigrants like them, and their father worked more than one job at a time, while studying English at night.
In their new land, both twins wanted a military career, and like many immigrants who arrive in America, they really believed that this is the “land of opportunity.” They set their sights high and dedicated themselves to their goal, and both are now lieutenant colonels in the U.S. Army.
At this point, if you wrote this as a work of fiction, you would get an eye roll from your editor with a strong suggestion to rework your storyline to make it more believable. But the true story gets even better.
Along the way, Alexander earned a master’s degree at Harvard, served multiple tours overseas and received a Purple Heart when he was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004. He is a warrior and a scholar.
And in another “this can’t be true” detail, the twins most recently have occupied offices across the hall from each other in the West Wing of the White House. Alexander joined the National Security Council in 2018. Yevgeny serves on the NSC as a lawyer specializing in ethics.
On the battlefield in Iraq, Alexander knew that he could be wounded or killed. That young Americans have always stepped forward knowing there is a chance of injury or death leaves the rest of us in gratitude and wonder. In the great American tradition, Alexander accepted that chance.
And last week, Alexander had to muster a different kind of courage. This time there was more than a chance that he would be wounded. This time there was a certainty that political partisans and enemies of the truth would try to assassinate his character and love of America.
Still, Alexander spoke the truth. He testified before congressional Republicans and Democrats that his boss — the commander-in-chief and the president of the United States — tried to squeeze political dirt out of the president of Ukraine before releasing the military aid Congress had appropriated.
As reported by The New York Times, Alexander told the committee, “I sit here, as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant. I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.”
That is the American story we have always loved.
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected].