Memorial Day, 2014: Some Personal Thoughts
Joe Ray Courtney was a friend of mine. We went all the way back to junior high. We dated the same girls, and we shared the same passions about things like cars and baseball. When I was on crutches after I broke my leg, he made it his business to help me get around. I never got to thank him properly.
There was a large group of us, and we all had a natural, unspoken awareness of the fact that we were Americans. We were proud of that, and we had a right to be. In school we learned about the country’s history and about things that mattered. Drugs and street gangs were a tiny little aberration that afflicted a very small fraction of the country. We were all free to express our religious views on our own terms, the economy worked just fine, abortion was understood for the back street horror that it was, and the greatest blessing of all was that we were Free, and all it took to be a full partner in the American Dream was personal commitment, and the willingness to take responsibility for our own lives. In the early 60’s Joe and the rest of us emerged into the world of grown men, into that America.
We had all been aware of the growing threat to our Nation posed by the communists in Viet Nam. If they weren’t stopped, the entire world would be consumed by an unstoppable wave of communism, and we would all be reduced to one worldwide mass of subservient people in some worker’s paradise. We believed every word of it, and why shouldn’t we? After all, the government said so.
Most of us decided the right thing to do was to join the military. We would put our lives on hold, do our part to stop the threat, and return to our futures later. That’s the way it worked for some of us, but for over 58,000 of us, it was the last free decision we would make.
Joe left it all in the mud in a place called Binh Duong just 4 years later, in 1968. He was 22 years old. If he came back today, he wouldn’t recognize what America is fast becoming. This isn’t the country he died for.
Joe, and those 58,000 other American Patriots, joined the ranks of over a million Americans who died to protect the Dream of Freedom. And it’s going on right now, today. They deserve to be remembered and honored for the sacrifice they made.
This Memorial Day, in yet another masterpiece of PR management, Mr. Obama went to Afghanistan to address the troops, and to thank them for their fight against our enemies, in a war brought to us by terrorists whose existence he will not acknowledge. His cynicism is overwhelming.
Today the threat confronting us is very real, but it’s not coming from some people hiding on the edge of some rice paddy; it’s coming from inside the White House. What drives Mr. Obama to “transform” this nation into something that denies the Dream that all of our nation’s veterans died for is a mystery. Someday he’ll find himself face to face with those veterans, and he’ll have a chance to try to explain himself to them.
I hope I’m standing there listening when that happens. Joe’s reaction is going to be priceless.