"Stockdale...deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War."
So reads the Medal of Honor citation for James Bond Stockdale. Shot down over North Vietnam in 1965, he endured seven years of captivity as a Prisoner of War, one of the longest such ordeals in American history. Tortured 15 times, he was forced to wear vise-like heavy leg irons for two years, and spent four of the seven years in solitary confinement, in total darkness.
Though his captors held his body prisoner, their relentless attempts to break his spirit never succeeded. Throughout his captivity, Stockdale's steadfast refusal to cooperate with the enemy kept alive the spirit of resistance in his fellow POWs. When his story was told on his release in 1973, the story of his courage and endurance became an inspiration to Americans everywhere.
Whatever challenges we may face in the years to come, Americans and all freedom-loving peoples can fortify themselves with the example of Admiral James Bond Stockdale, an American hero for our time, and for all times.