May 29, 2006

On Memorial Day and American Freedom

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Left: Arlington National Cemetery

(Toledo, OH) While sitting in my backyard with family and friends today, I realized how lucky I am to live in the United States. I also know that the relative freedom and prosperity I enjoy is owed in part to the sacrifices of millions of American military personnel.

I do not write these thoughts as a sort of insipid Hallmark bit of fluff, the obligatory holiday pat on the back to the military that spring up on patriotic days like today.

I am lucky, for I could have been one of the one billion people in the world who go to bed hungry every night, or one of the nearly three billion people who exist on less than $2 a day.

The sacrifices made by millions of American military personnel have secured for the United States its preeminent position as the dominant world superpower. Many people use the term "American Empire" to describe the United States in the 21st century, but today is not the day to debate the merits of American imperialism.

And yet, it matters not whether the causes for which American soldiers fought and died have always had moral justification. The fact that citizens believed they fought a noble cause - and willingly gave their lives - is reason enough to give them our thanks.

We can direct any ire - if deserved - at the federal politicians who make the decisions about sending our troops to war.

Today we should pause and remember the contributions of Americans past and present who were willing to die for their country.

Tomorrow we can argue about whether they have ever been deceived.

18 comments:

Dariush said...

"And yet, it matters not whether the causes for which American soldiers fought and died have always had moral justification. The fact that citizens believed they fought a noble cause - and willingly gave their lives - is reason enough to give them our thanks.

"We can direct any ire - if deserved - at the federal politicians who make the decisions about sending our troops to war.

"Today we should pause and remember the contributions of Americans past and present who were willing to die for their country.

"Tomorrow we can argue about whether they have ever been deceived."


Well said, Mike. A friend of mine who works at CSPAN made the same point to me yesterday.

ToledoNative said...

Well said Mike. Politics for another day. Today we honor our troops.

David Schantz said...

Great post. God bless everyone that lost their life while serving our country.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

McCaskey said...

Certainly, good post.
And, now that it is officially "tomorrow", I can say in good conscience that the men and women fighting in Iraq have indeed been deceived.

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liberal_dem said...

I'm not sure that it is 'politics' when citizens demand to know why their leaders have sent our military men and women off to a foreign land to fight, kill, and die.

Unless, of course, that the entire plan was nothing but a political ruse staged to move the poll numbers of an incompetent president upward.

At that point, if true, citizens must demand nothing less than the guillotine .

Brian said...

Careful Liberal Dem:

Besides being an obnoxious puke, you are getting into a territory that could involve the Secret Service.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

"you are getting into a territory that could involve the Secret Service."

Hardly--he's merely invoking Jefferson's "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" without making a specific threat.

Frankly, I don't think we remind our politicians often enough that they can be replaced forcibly. What else is the Second Amendment for?

historymike said...

Thanks for the kudos, all.

Agreed that we are free to criticize our government, and that liberal dem's hypothetical "conviction" is protected free speech.

I like the Jefferson reference.

Dariush said...

"...you are getting into a territory that could involve the Secret Service."

What's even sadder than reading statements such as these are the realization that many of tens of millions of Americans are in full agreement with this kind of statism and authoritarianism.

The Founders would be shocked and appalled at how so many have thrown away their legacy in favor of making the Executive Branch into an object of idol-worship.

The President of the United States is not our "leader." He is our agent, our employee. He is not some numinous being who embodies our national will, as peddlers of Fuhrerprinzip would have us believe. He is not Louis XIV, the friggin' Sun King. Unless they are active-duty members of the military, Americans have no Commander-in-Chief, and unless war is declared by Congress that occasional function of the presidency isn't operative.

Praguetwin said...

First of all great post Mike. I had the same feeling and kept it simple. My post for the day was just basically thanks.

The President of the United States is not our "leader."

That is right. He is the "Decider."

Brian said...

I'm not attacking it on a free speech level. I just know such statements attract attention.

Personally, I find advocating death for the president morally repulsive,

liberal_dem said...

You'll have to excuse Brian as he is quite depressed that Bush has fallen so low in the polls.

By the way, Brian, no knocks on the door yet. That will clearly add to your angst.

Kate said...

Mike what a thoughtful piece. And thank you, on behalf of the many soldiers and veterans in my family and my life - thank you very much.

It is a rarity in today's world that we can separate administrative decisions from the brave soldiers who are obligated to carry out their orders.

It is intersting to note that there were dissenters with every military action that we've been involved with. So we don't have a new situation here.

But please keep any argument with the adminstration aside from our armed forces. They have no say in the matters and these are the ones who offer up their lives to serve. Even if things don't make sense.

We should send our support to the soldiers. And to the families of those who did not make it home.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Your thoughts were well thought out and thought provoking Mike.

The only relavent thought I might add is borrowed from an onknown patriot.

"If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can read it in English, thank your military."


Good job all!

liberal_dem said...

"If you can read it in English, thank your military."

...except, perhaps, if one fought in the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.

McCaskey said...

LOL, grand slam, Liberal Dem.

Hooda Thunkit said...

liberal_dem
"...except, perhaps, if one fought in the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812."

Granted, although we would hardly recognize their speech as English, these days ;-)

Very early Merkin maybe, but hardly Engrish :-)