Dr. Richard Mooradkanian, U.S. Army, 1953-1955, was my trusted military advisor who critiqued each “Hero of the Month” column I wrote before I sent it to press. For the past two-and-a-half years, his wisdom, counsel, and insight guided me in my columns for “The Valley Patriot.” When Richard passed away on March 22, 2014, I lost not only my counselor but also my brother and my best friend.
Richard was a student of history. He had the innate ability to put battles, military campaigns, generals, and government leaders into perspective. He saw the Big Picture. The sweep of history. He had a phenomenal memory for details. His anecdotal information made battles and campaigns come alive. He filled in the gaps left by the military textbooks and websites I always used.
Richard left college and entered the service on December 1, 1953. The Korean War had seen some of its bloodiest fighting during those last two months before the armistice was signed on July 27. The armistice ended the fighting but did not end the war. The cease-fire was only temporary, and cease-fire negotiations extended for many more years, as Army historian, Andrew Birtle points out.
In the Army, Richard trained with the heavy artillery. His hands were prepared for war.
At Brown University, as a history major, Richard was trained to discern and understand the times.
In studying the rise and fall of nations and empires, he realized that the underlying cause of many wars is the clash of opposing ideologies, conflicting worldviews based on religion. Christianity vs. Islam. Our Creator’s inalienable rights given to man vs. a godless society’s totalitarian control. The dignity of man vs. the dehumanization of man. Democracy vs. dictatorship. He understood, as only an historian can, that the erosion of freedoms in America stems not from fiscal policies but from the lack of absolutes in moral values and distortion of the Truth. He had seen the pattern all too well in nations where that erosion began with small, imperceptible steps. Below the radar. Until the noose was tightened. “Liberty,” he knew, demanded “eternal vigilance.”
And so he became a watchman on the wall, a sentry at the gates in the battle for the soul of America. He firmly believed “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” He warned of the influence of the radical Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama administration and the dangers of permitting Sharia law in America. He denounced the shredding of our Constitution by President Obama. “Listen! Listen! Listen to the alarm!” he urged. “The bugle has sounded! Islam says, ‘Slay the infidel if he refuses to convert.’ Christianity says, ‘Love one another.’ This is a religious war! Let us stand fast together, for the Truth will always prevail.”
Richard was a patriot, proud of America and everything she stands for. He was an articulate spokesman for the Truth. A silent warrior. A humble man. His quiet strength came not from himself, which would have failed him—but because he stood firmly on Christ the Solid Rock. And he never wavered.
When I began writing these columns, he became my strongest supporter.
His wise counsel helped me get interviews with several WWII veterans reluctant at first to open up because they had “no heroics” to report. “Tell them,” Richard urged me, “they were WILLING to sacrifice their life for our country. Where they eventually ended up, whether in combat or not, was something they had no control over. What really mattered was the attitude of their heart.”
Some colorful anecdotes came as a result—the hilarious antics of the gooney birds on Midway Island, the carrier pigeons delivering messages on New Guinea, and the infamous “40 and 8” boxcars that transported troops to and from the front lines in Europe. It was gratifying to see the veterans’ joy when their contributions were recognized.
For Richard, self-sacrifice had always been paramount. It was the measure of a man. Richard sacrificed himself for others. This grew out of his deep commitment as a follower of Jesus Christ. He generously gave of himself, his time, and his resources to those in need. Without fanfare.
Richard understood the heart. His words brought healing.
“When veterans say, ‘I just followed orders. Nothing extraordinary,’ tell them: ‘In war you see only a small piece of the whole picture. You were given an assignment, and you completed it. Even when you didn’t understand. You were faithful.’”
Or invariably, they compared themselves to others. “Tell them, ‘You have a story to tell, one unique to you alone—your eyewitness account. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten. You answered the call. You were committed. You played a crucial role in the liberation of Europe.’ ”
At this, their stories began to flow! The healing had begun!
SHAPING OF A WARRIOR
After Richard finished his training with the heavy artillery, he developed a severe reaction to Army chemicals that was potentially life-threatening. As a result, instead of shipping overseas, he was reassigned to the Medical Corps as a medical-dental specialist, where he discovered his life’s profession. Following his Army discharge, he returned to Brown, graduated, and then entered Tufts Graduate School of Dentistry. After receiving his degree, he practiced in Boston’s Back Bay and served as a clinical instructor at Tufts Dental for 45 years.
The spirit of freedom runs deep in man’s spirit. In Richard’s DNA, it was a forceful current. One grandfather barely escaped the Turkish massacres of Armenians when he fled in the middle of the night, with his family, with only the clothes on their backs. Somehow they secretly reached Le Havre, France, where they boarded a ship for America and freedom. Our other grandfather “understood the times” and sent his family, one by one, to America before finally coming himself. Members of our extended family survived Turkish death marches, rescued by American missionaries. Family members served with the U.S. Army in WWI, WWII, and in the Korean War, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
REPUBLICAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
On April 23, 2014, in a special ceremony during its annual event, the North Andover Republican Town Committee recognized Richard posthumously for his contributions. Chairman Charles J. Gangi awarded him the “Distinguished Title of 2013 Republican of the Year”
“…for his unselfish dedication to the Republican ideals of individual responsibility and limited government. In his quiet manner, Dr. Mooradkanian generously supported Republican candidates with his time, energy, and resources. Local Republicans in office today can attest to his commitment in advancing a Republican presence in a state long dominated by the opposition party.
“Dr. Mooradkanian was a genuine patriot who served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was always proud to express his love for country. He was a true gentleman who promoted his positions with logic and facts and figures that were hard to refute. He was an immensely positive force for Republican principles.”
Today, freedom’s call rings out loudly as in 1861, when Julia Ward Howe roused a nation with “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” She wrote: “He [God] has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat…Oh, be swift my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!…As He [Christ] died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!…His truth is marching on.”