Monday, May 29, 2006
Another Wartime Memorial Day
It's another Memorial Day. In the back yard, the kids will be playing, jumping on the trampoline, squirting each other with water, laughing. They've got it good.
At the end of the driveway, the flag flaps in the breeze on the fence post. It seems to stand watch over these children.
Across the world, another group of young Americans engage the enemies of freedom. For them, it's another day at the office -- another wartime Memorial Day.
Many of this latest group of American heroes have paid all they could pay, and surely more will do the same. We remember them today.
Americans, awash in our blessings, often forget that the idyllic scenes that we participate in ... today and over and over ... would represent the opportunity of a lifetime for most in the world.
Yes, it's easy for us to forget why we have it so good. This is true, even though people living in freedom have always been the exception in this world, and it remains so, even now.
Memorial Day is about remembering why we have it so good.
But first we have to know: Why have there been wars? Why are there wars now? And why will there continue to be wars? How can we remain free?
The forms of government that mankind has been most comfortable with throughout history are antithetical to the American ideal: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
The very identity of America is a call to arms for tyrants everywhere.
Tyrants will continue to misjudge us, and to take their chances. They will gamble that we will not risk our fortunes and sacred honor ... and indeed our lives, as the founders did.
The Japanese were sure of victory at the outset of WWII, for they considered Americans mere "merchants". Surely, these soft westerners would not risk it all and put their lives at risk to fight the descendants of the Samurai warriors? But Americans repeatedly risked and lost their lives in pursuit of the Japanese across the Pacific.
We remember many Americans today who gave it all in proving the Japanese wrong. Many Americans died, but the Japanese remember that even more Japanese perished.
Moving to our present conflict, the Islamic fascists that we now face thought America would shrink from a lengthy conflict in which many American lives would be lost. As soft and wicked infidels, we would quickly and quietly relent, or so it was thought. They were wrong.
Like most totalitarians, the jihadis only had and still have a mere glimpse of America, and a dim one at that. Yes, our free society permits some, too many, to choose to grow soft and wicked. The society produces some whose sole aim to be a "merchant". That's what a free society allows. But it also produces far more.
This free nation also grows and develops those who choose to love and serve America. These are the young people who chase jihadis through the dark of night ... who kick down doors and return the thrown grenades back inside ... who bleed ... who bleed and die. And they face the enemies of America like men.
How does the Land of the Free ... become and remain the Home of the Brave? It's mystical, almost magical. Yet, it's destined to be, and we've see it again and again throughout history.
A free people, living as they were designed by their Creator, produces a remant that will give all so that the nation can survive. It has happened. And it is happening now. Ask America's enemies, or spend some time with our young troops.
All life leads ultimately to death, but a free man's decision to give his life for his friends and countrymen ... this produces life.
The American ideal presupposes that there is more to life than the here and now. Americans who have taken this ideal seriously throughout our history have thus been ready and willing to give their all when the nation called.
So here's to all who have given all they could, to every one who has given his life in defense of the Shining City among nations. The nation salutes you. And we remember.
And almost magically, in looking back and remembering, we see the way to a future where America will remain "the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave."
In remembering, we believe again.