Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
On this Memorial Day season, I think it is appropriate to truly contemplate and think about the soldiers and families who have sacrificed their lives and loved ones, and given their time and dedication to our country.
Sometimes it is beyond reach to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and feel, to the most heightened sense, what it would be like to say good-by to our loved ones for perhaps the last time. Do we take the time to feel empathy for the soldier who has to walk away from his family – mother, father, wife, husband, daughter, son – to be potentially killed out in the field – to die away from family – in perhaps some distant land, in enemy territory, on foreign soil? How frightening this would be.
It is difficult in our daily lives that are hectic with work, pressures, commitments and family responsibilities to really pause to think about the sacrifice our men and women in uniform have made and are making to protect us. Our men and women in uniform were and are the brave, the special, the few and the truly great patriots. Without these soldiers, we, America and Americans, would not be here – plain and simple. The air we breathe, the land we walk, the sky we sketch, the country we call home, is because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.
No matter which war they called their own, they all fought the enemy, whether near or far, whether boots were on the ground, in the air or on the sea, whether the enemy was present or premeditating. As Alexander Hamilton expressed in Federalist Paper No. 24, “ cases are likely to occur under our governments, as well as under those of other nations, which sometimes render a military force in the time of peace, essential to the security of the society.” Thus, an actual battle or a state of ready alert has served the same purpose – the enemy was to know and knew that he would not prevail against men and women who had the Divine right of liberty in their soul, passion in their hearts and the supreme strength of military readiness.
Memorial Day is the day to set aside time and sit down with our children and teach them about our wars and war heroes. It is a time to teach them about the Revolutionary War and the reasons why we fought it. They should know about the soldiers who walked barefoot in the snow, leaving the stain of their blood on the ice and about those soldiers who died miserable deaths as POWs in the stifling bowels of the British ships at sea. They should know about heroes such as Paul Revere, Israel Putnam and Nathan Hale who said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
We should take a moment during our Memorial Day season, and everyday, to pray for our men and women in uniform. We should teach our children about those who served in the War of 1812 when the British returned, how they burned down the White House and how President James Madison’s wife, Dolly Madison, ran to save the portrait of President George Washington.
They should know about the Civil War, why we fought it and how thousands of our soldiers died from a new type of bullet that shattered their bones. They should know about the horrors of slavery, how it had permeated the world throughout history and yet how, according to William J. Bennett, “the westerners led the world to end the practice.” They should know about how Americans fought Americans claiming hundreds of thousands of soldier’s lives.
They should know about World War I and how the soldiers lined up in rows, one after the other, to be shot or stabbed by swords. They should know about World War II and the almost inconceivable bravery of the soldiers who ran onto the beach to endure the battle of Normandy, which claimed thousands of American lives. They should understand what history has to teach us about the mistakes in politics that bred the tyrants who led millions to slaughter. As Publius teaches us, we should not rule with reason but upon the strong foundation of the lessons of history.
They should know about the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Communist Regimes that ripped the souls from its people. They should know that our soldiers did not fight or die in vain in Korea or Vietnam because even though the enemy was physically in their field, the enemy’s propaganda permeated and thus threatened our field.
They should know about the soldiers who stood on alert during the Cold War and their willingness to die. (My father is a West Point Military graduate and served in the Air Force. He was one of the first to fly twice the speed of sound, Mach II, in the 1960’s. He flew the B-58 Hustler and was ready to die on his mission to Russia when his country called him to do so.) The cold war was won by the ready willingness of our brave soldiers in uniform and a country who was militarily prepared.
A prepared state is a winning state. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 24, “Can any man think it would be wise, to leave such posts in a situation to be at any instant seized by one or the other of two neighboring and formidable powers? To act this part, would be to desert all the usual maxims of prudence and policy.”
Today, we fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. We fight the insurgencies at our borders most especially in Arizona, Texas and California and we fight an elusive enemy that is creeping into our fields. They are creeping both from abroad with violence and from within with the slow usurpation of our founding principles. Alexander Hamilton warns in Federalist Paper No. 25, “For it is a truth which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger, when the means of injuring the rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertained the least suspicion.”
A strong and honest government based on the Constitution and ruled by the people through the Constitutional Republic will prevail but only if we, as citizens, know about it and only if our children are raised on the fruits of this knowledge. As Alexander Hamilton states in Federalist Paper No. 25, “It also teaches us, in its application to the United States, how little rights of a feeble government are likely to be respected, even by its own constituents.”
Wars are fought physically and wars are fought mentally. As civil servants we must be alert to the enemy that is amongst us. Alexander Hamilton states in Federalist Paper No. 25, “…every breach of the fundamental laws, though dedicated by necessity, impairs that sacred reverence, which ought to be maintained in the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a country…”
On this Memorial Day season, we begin our mission with an education of the thesis and basis of our country – what we fight for – the United States Constitution and the wisdom, freedoms, righteousness and structure that it upholds.
May God bless all of our service men and women past, present and future, who have fought valiantly for these principles.