In Indianapolis, they are running their 99th race. Folks are camping out this weekend lighting fires for the hotdogs and s’mores; many are enjoying family gatherings. It’s surely a nice weekend for all this. However, Memorial Day is a reverent day. A time to remember American men and women who have fallen in foreign wars.
Since the Revolutionary War, men and women have died for an ideal, a set of values particular to the masses who clamor to our borders: the pursuit of freedom. Free to pursue a life as we wish, free to worship as we choose. The idea that all human beings are due certain inalienable rights.
There are those who criticize war or certain war efforts. To do so is stomping treacherously over the legacy of those who believed in this freedom. Right or wrong, Americans for more than 200 years have donned uniforms to defend our rights. Right or wrong, we have entered foreign lands to protect the rights of other individuals against tyranny, fascism, and unimaginable human rights violations. To call these efforts wrong is tantamount to saying that freedom isn’t worth it, or that human life isn’t worth fighting for.
Tell that to John Hancock, to Benjamin Franklin, to Paul Revere, to Patrick Henry. Tell that to the mother whose son will never see homeland soil again because an IED exploded under his Hummer. Are you prepared to tell them that their deaths are in vain?
Admittedly, these issues of patriotism, love of country, and love of God our Creator run deep within me. So it is an offense to me when I hear that we were puppets in Vietnam or we shouldn’t have gone to Iraq because we had “bad intel”. Each man and woman goes because we believe in fighting for something dear to us. There will always be bad politics and stupid politicians – regrettably putting our young in harm’s way. But this is not an enscripted armed forces – we put that uniform on willingly. If we die, let it NOT be said that it was for nothing.
Irene Dunne popularized a quote you are likely familiar with: If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
Enjoy the race. Eat up that potato salad. Hug your momma. But remember that you do these things as members of a free country – for better or worse – and do so because men and women died so you could.
Happy Memorial Day!