They Gave Their Fortunes and Lives for Our Liberty
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” –John 15:12-14
Memorial Day was first observed as Decoration Day to commemorate those who died in the War Between the States. It is a day set aside in deference to American Patriots who pledged and delivered their lives to Support and Defend the Rule of Law enshrined in our Constitution.
Since our nation’s founding, more than one million American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have paid the ultimate price in defense of our nation, and it is their final sacrifice that we honor with solemn reverence.
Our Founders clearly understood that the burden of sustaining Liberty would be calculated in human sacrifice. As John Adams noted, “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.” So, on this last Monday in May, millions of American Patriots will honor the service and sacrifice of these uniformed Patriots by participating in respectful commemorations across the nation.
Who were these brave souls?
On 12 May 1962, Gen. Douglas MacArthur addressed the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, offering this description: “Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefields many, many years ago and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world’s noblest figures – not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast.”
Gen. MacArthur continued: “In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage. As I listened to those songs in memory’s eye, I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God. I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: duty, honor, country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as they saw the way and the light.”
In the current era, too many of our countrymen have no understanding of, or appreciation for duty, honor, and country. They are swooned by media outlets luring them to Memorial Day “sales” that glorify the commercial exploitation now attendant to every national day of recognition. Indeed, while divisions of America’s Armed Forces around the world are standing in harm’s way against formidable Jihadi adversaries, many Americans will be too preoccupied with beer, barbecue and baseball to pause and recognize the priceless burden borne by generations of uniformed Patriots, that they may be so preoccupied.
To a great extent, Memorial Day has been sold out, and no more so than by politicians who use the occasion to feign Patriotism for a day (or a moment) while in reality, they are in constant violation of their sacred oaths to our Constitution.
In the last few weeks, I have observed the current commander in chief of our Armed Forces as he has converted Osama’s Termination into political fodder for his 2012 campaign. For a man who has shown so much contempt for our uniformed Patriots, he has wasted no time taking credit for their successes.
Is he fit for command?
Unlike political advancement, which in most cases is attained by duplicity and deception, moving up the ranks in our Armed Services is based largely on performance evaluations. Each service branch has its own assessment forms for officers and NCOs. The Army has Officer Evaluation Reports, the Air Force has Officer Performance Reports, and the Navy and Marine Corps have Fitness Reports (FITREPs), all in order to evaluate proficiency and character as prerequisites for advancement.
The Army evaluates loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. Let there be no doubt that if the current CINC were subject to the same appraisal as an Army or Marine Corps E-5 (sergeant), he would be judged severely under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Indeed, he would likely be court-martialed for dereliction of duty and dishonorably discharged. No CINC in our nation’s history has been less fit to serve in that capacity than Barack Hussein Obama.
Obama’s malfeasance notwithstanding, there is still great promise for Liberty and the security of that promise resides, first and foremost, within the ranks of our uniformed Patriots, our countrymen who have volunteered years of their young lives and have publicly declared their dedication to the ideals of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It is fitting therefore that we honor their service accordingly.
On Memorial Day of 1982, President Ronald Reagan offered these words in honor of Patriots interred at Arlington National Cemetery: “I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them. Yet, we must try to honor them not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.”
He continued, “Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we – in a less final, less heroic way – be willing to give of ourselves. It is this, beyond the controversy and the congressional debate, beyond the blizzard of budget numbers and the complexity of modern weapons systems, that motivates us in our search for security and peace. … The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery. One gets that feeling here on this hallowed ground, and I have known that same poignant feeling as I looked out across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Europe, in the Philippines, and the military cemeteries here in our own land. Each one marks the resting place of an American hero and, in my lifetime, the heroes of World War I, the Doughboys, the GI’s of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. They span several generations of young Americans, all different and yet all alike, like the markers above their resting places, all alike in a truly meaningful way.”
President Reagan concluded, “As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. … I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: ‘O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?’ That is what we must all ask.”
Indeed we must.
For the fallen, we are certain of that which is noted on all Marine Corps Honorable Discharge orders: “Fideli Certa Merces” – to the faithful there is certain reward.
To the beneficiaries of the legacy of Liberty that they defended with their lives, I humbly ask that each of you observe Memorial Day with reverence.
You can help to prepare for Memorial Day by placing flags at headstones in your local military cemetery (generally the Saturday prior to Memorial Day). Take a moment and read about the Tomb of the Unknowns. In honor of American Patriots who have died in defense of our great nation, lower your flag to half-staff from sunrise to 1200 on Monday. (Read more about proper etiquette and protocol.) Join us by setting aside a time of silence for remembrance and prayer. Offer a personal word of gratitude and comfort to surviving family members you know who are grieving for a beloved warrior fallen in battle.
On this and every day, please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces now standing in harm’s way around the world in defense of our Liberty, and for the families awaiting their safe return.
Please view our Patriot Memorial Day Tributes.