The Air Force plane drifted down to the tarmac of Osan Air Base in South Korea, sidled up the ramp and open the cargo bay. Fifty-five service members respectfully brought out the remains of 55 soldiers who had lost their lives in the Korean Conflict. It took 75 years for them to come home.
Launched to defend South Korea from world communism, the Korean Conflict left 33,739 Americans dead and 103,284 wounded. In mud and cold, they successfully defended the "containment policy" designed to stop the spread of communism sponsored throughout the world by the Soviet Union.
Religious leaders became alarmed at the pace with which Russia, and fellow travelers, gobbled up free countries. A Soviet Union-Chinese alliance would be a formidable challenge to the religious values of the United States.
So they determined in the 1950s to draw the contrast between "godless communism" and Christian America by adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" to our money.
As the Korean War wound down, the French lost in Southeast Asia so the United States rushed in to fill the vacuum in Vietnam, where another 47,434 young men lost their lives and 153,303 were wounded, all to stop the spread of "godless communism."
Conquest and power may still be the game but strategies and weapons have changed. By their brazen behavior in the Ukraine and Crimea, the Russians of today have demonstrated that they are still the Russians of yesterday. Beneath the demeanor of the sheep are the claws of the bear.
With the new technology, Russians have decided to conquer through manipulation of social media on the Internet. They have evaluated the American voters and found them susceptible to rumors and lies - fertile ground for manipulation.
Here are the facts:
1. We know that the Russians can and will manipulate North Dakota elections. They demonstrated in 2016 that they have the technical capacity. The truth is that they are already here.
2. They will not attack the election machinery since our precincts and counties are too small to conceal any manipulation of election results.
3. Because the Russians have stated openly that they want to help Trump, they will look at the North Dakota candidates for the U.S. Senate and support the one that will give Trump a faithful follower.
It doesn't take a political genius to conclude that the Russians will be opposing the election of Heidi Heitkamp and supporting the election of Kevin Cramer.
First, they will organize front committees to disguise their true identities - North Dakotans for Prosperity, The Christian Political Forum, Citizens for Truth, Make North Dakota Great Again, etc. etc.
Second, they will lure North Dakotans to join their fraudulent committees to spread the rumors. This happened in several states in 2016.
Third, the Russians will use positive and negative rumors that will cut to the heart of North Dakota's interests and generate claims that Heitkamp is against oil, farmers, immigration policy, water development and a host of other important issues.
Facing this onslaught will require an alert citizenry that can distinguish between the normal claims of the Cramer campaign and the radical statements fed into the system by the Russians.
It seems that the Trump Administration has done very little to protect the 2018 election from Russian meddling.
Has Trump rolled over by leaving the gate ajar so that the Russian rustlers can take a North Dakota Senate seat? Is this the collusion for which Washington has been looking?
After 80,000 young men and women have given their lives to stop Russian "godless communism" we can't just walk away from so great a sacrifice as that and surrender our country to the Russians. Vigilance is the price of democracy.
Lloyd Omdahl is a former lieutenant governor and professor at UND.