This Memorial Day amid all the boat filled lakes, bikini filled beaches and back yard barbecues, many of us will take the time to stop and reflect on what this day is really about. We’ll pause and remember the courage and sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price to preserve the rights and liberty this country enjoys. Rights it seems, that many in this country are willing to just throw away.
We like to plaster bumper stickers on our cars, and sport t-shirts proclaiming, “Support our Troops”. But are we making a real effort to support them? The VA hospital scandal, and the whittling away of our Veterans benefits are truly appalling. However, there is another way that many Americans have dishonored our Vets that maybe we have never considered.
When men and women join the military they take an oath. Not an oath to protect our government, an oath to protect and defend The Constitution of the United States of America. When we treat The Constitution as a “living” document, to be interpreted at whim, we reject the spirit of that oath. When we elect to office, people of questionable integrity, people who care more about their own power and glory than serving their constituents, we tell our Warriors that we do not care about the document they are sworn to defend. When, either through ignorance or indifference we elect government officials whose goal it is to turn our Capitalist, Republic into a Socialist Commune, we tell our military members that their sacrifices were in vain.
As citizens of this country, we all have an obligation to learn about our history, our Founders, and our Founding Documents. We have a responsibly to make wise and informed choices when we vote. And we have a sacred duty to only put into office those individuals who will truly “uphold and defend” The Constitution of the United States of America. To do less is to make the deaths of our bravest, and brightest meaningless.
The other day I was watching TV with my daughter when a commercial from one of Mitt Romney‘s Super Pacs came on. She sat shaking her head then stated. “I don’t like Mitt Romney”. This started a discussion on the comparison of the negativity of political campaigns. Her rather discouraging reply was, “don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Obama either. I don’t think either candidate is any good. I makes me not even want to bother voting.” This is her first time getting to vote in a Presidential election and she’s already so disgusted by the campaign crap that she’s just done with it all. I felt so disappointed for her, and so afraid for our future. I can still remember the pride I felt the first time I got to vote. Even after four years of Ronald Reagan, we could still feel the hopelessness of the demoralizing presidency of Jimmy Carter. Proud once again to call ourselves Americans, we young rural Texans were going to make sure we didn’t go there again. I was excited about going to that tin shed out behind the Old Rock Church, to mark my poster sized ballot and put it into the lock-box. I felt as though I were really making a difference. Not in any election since, have I felt that way.
No longer do we have the pleasure of electing a hero who will bravely lead our country to a place of honor and respect in the world. Now we have to settle for trying to discern who will do the least amount of damage. Gone are the grand designs for peace and prosperity, boldly put forth by men like President Reagan. We are left with mud-slinging salesmen and morally bankrupt hypocrites. We no longer go to the polls to elect a leader, we go instead to choose between the lesser of two evils. No wonder, that our young adults are so disillusioned.
Right now the America that has become the most prosperous nation on earth, the country the rest of the world looked up to as an example of leadership, and decency is in grave danger of perishing. Sitting in the Oval Office is a man whose personal philosophy is the polar opposite of that of our Founding Fathers. Someone who has no real understanding of an American culture, and no respect for the “separation of powers” established by our Constitution. Through deceit and subterfuge he bypasses the “checks and balances” of our system of government in order to push through his own agenda. A vision of America where those who live by their own hard work and ingenuity have to share the fruits of their labors with those who choose to do nothing. Where charity and compassion are no longer the way that men of integrity separate themselves from the lazy and selfish, but are government mandates instead. Where peace is bought by placating our enemies and abandoning our allies.
This may be the most critical election in our nation’s history. Made even more so by those who have been beguiled by Obama’s charismatic presence, into believing that his vision for America really will make their lives better. Those individuals are lost to us. Our only hope is to convince those who are undecided and especially those who feel that their vote doesn’t matter that an absent vote is the same as a vote for Obama. The only way to save our nation is for everyone who is tired of “politics as usual” to understand the disaster that four more years of Obama will bring. Mitt Romney needs your vote. The country needs your vote. Even if the choices aren’t great.
(Parts of this are reposted from an earlier post entitled “No Guts No Glory”.)
This Monday we will see billboards, bumper stickers, and car magnets all proclaiming “Support our Troops“, and “Freedom Isn’t Free”. Are these truly heart-felt words, displayed by proud patriots or are they meaningless platitudes, mindlessly quoted by pandering politicians? On this day there will be countless memorial services and tributes. But will we stop a moment and reflect on what this day really means or is it simply the beginning of summer? Just a day to have a picnic or barbecue.
I remember as a child hearing the stories of my mother, who, as a toddler underwent surgery on her foot. For years afterward she required special orthotic shoes that had to be replaced every time her foot grew. This was during WWII and rationing was in full force. Everyone was allowed only one pair of shoes a year. Including my mother. The government didn’t make a special exception because she was a child with a medical condition. Her parents didn’t demand that she was entitled to more ration coupons because of a unique hardship. Instead they gave up their ration coupons to get her the shoes she needed and when those ran out other family members, friends and neighbors donated theirs. Why was this necessary? Because the materials that were used to make shoes over here were needed to make shoes for the troops over there. Could you imagine giving up coffee, sugar, shoes and tires and sending them to the troops in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq? Could we ever again unite as a whole country behind an effort to rid our world of an unspeakable evil? Do we even know what evil is anymore?
The invention of photography as allowed us to see the horrors of war up close and personal. The flag draped coffins of our loved ones, the bloody, mangled bodies of our enemies, the atrocities. Faced with the horrifying reality that the price of freedom is blood, many of us have decided that the price is too high. We believe that the act of war, rather than the megalomaniacal ideals of ruthless men is the true evil and that nothing save our own personal survival is worth fighting and dying for.
The men who marched at Lexington and Concord, whose bodies covered the ground at Gettysburg, who raised the flag at Mount Suribachi, all understood the power of the words of our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution. That such a radical ideal as individual freedom, that men should control their own destinies, requires a collective sacrifice.
By looking to the government for our prosperity rather that demanding that our elected officials recognize the freedom to build that prosperity ourselves, by allowing the government the rights to our personal property, and by allowing the government to usurp and mismanaged our wages though an unnecessarily complicated tax code, we dishonor those who have fought and died to maintain those freedoms.
By allowing our schools to indoctrinate our children with the mantra that it is the government’s job to take care of us, to protect us from our own ignorance and folly, and that “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” is the highest morality, we dishonor those who fought and died for our right to think for ourselves.
Our Forefathers wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not to give us certain rights, but to preserve them. The government does not grant us our freedoms, rather we “the people” grant the government its right to exist. It’s time for us to “take back” our government and hold our elected officials accountable, for what they do with the money, property, time and power we “the people” give them.
In every election we have the opportunity to show that we truly understand the cost of our freedom and that it is precious. By taking the time and making the effort to research and vote for people truly worthy to serve us, and by reminding them regularly that they do, is how we prove that those who made the “ultimate sacrifice” did not do so in vain.