I Wish Our Government Understood Memorial Day
I wish we had leaders who unflinchingly defended the Bill of Rights. I wish we had a Congress that respected the constitutional limits of its enumerated powers. I wish we weren't saddled with a century of errant Supreme Court jurisprudence that has habitually refashioned the plain meaning of the Constitution's words in service to the partisan bents of its members.
I wish the 16th Amendment hadn't made it permissible for the federal government to tax the fruits of Americans' labor. I wish the 17th Amendment hadn't transformed the Senate from a legislative body representing the individual states' interests into a national House of Lords representing the national security state's interests. I wish our fifty state governments fought ferociously against the federal government to protect their inherent sovereign powers.
I wish the American people understood more broadly that the federal government has slowly but surely stolen from them rights and liberties that were once strictly protected from government infringement. I wish we were not represented by presidents who disloyally insist on ceding American self-determination to international governing bodies stocked with unelected bureaucrats who believe their "expertise" outweighs Americans' priorities.
I wish it weren't so easy for government propaganda, censorship campaigns, misrepresentations of U.S. history, and cynical identity politics to create extraordinary popular delusions that prove persistently the madness of crowds. I wish that before every new law written, every new regulation levied, every new judicial reimagining of the Constitution's expressed meaning, and every new executive order imposed, the people choosing to wield power over everyone else would stop to ponder whether they honor or betray the memories of every soldier, sailor, airman, Coastie, or Marine who ever "gave the last full measure of devotion" so "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Simply, I wish that Americans would pause regularly to consider the spectacular cost that has been paid for our freedom, the terrible disservice civic apathy has played in its diminishment, and the accelerating need for a hardened commitment to its future preservation.
Memorial Day lasts all year long for anyone who has lost a friend or loved one on a foreign field or in the silent sea. Twenty-four hours is wholly insufficient to honor those souls left behind or to soothe the souls of those left to mourn. There is no compartmentalization so hermetically sealed that a day's remembrance of those now gone can preserve the peace of the other three hundred and sixty-four. Every hour, every minute is unfinished because it is time unfolding without those who made time precious; it is life now left incomplete because it is missing those who made life full. To lose someone who sacrificed life so that others might live is a sacrifice for the survivors, too. It's a sacrifice that ripples through generations and across towns. It's a sacrifice that once made can never go away. It pounds. It weighs. Surely that heavy burden deserves consideration before those with power dishonor those who sacrificed all. Surely that unfathomable cost deserves our contemplation before those who wish to "fundamentally transform" America desecrate the sacred ideals so many died to defend.
When those we remember on Memorial Day sacrificed everything, why do our leaders sacrifice so little? When so many have died for our rights in the past, why do our leaders so profanely betray our rights today? Why is every tragedy in America used as a pretext for limiting freedom? Why is every difficulty treated as a renewed proposition for crippling the Bill of Rights? Why is every attack on our nation perversely transformed into an argument for restricting personal liberty? Why must every potential problem require a more expansive, intrusive, and intimidating government solution? When did American society become so fragile that the American government could succeed in bullying it around? When did American adults become so infantile that so many plead for politicians to parent them? To where did Americans' spirit for adventure momentarily retreat? Where have all the pioneers and explorers taken refuge? Where are all the great men and women now hiding?
To remain quiet while America's enemies hollow her from within means we have forgotten who we are. To remain silent while America's enemies insist she bend her knee to a despotic world means we have forgotten what we do. To follow orders blithely, accept government surveillance acquiescently, hand over the means of our self-defense apologetically, and allow our spiritual faith to be trampled with such little resistance means too many of us have forgotten why Memorial Day matters. Too many have forgotten what heroic sacrifice requires. Too many have failed to pass the torch of our nation's freedom from one generation to the next. Too many now live in darkness because liberty's light is lean.
To turn the words of our ideological enemies against them, that is not who we are! Americans of many generations or few are the descendants of those who crossed an ocean to be free. We are the inheritors of a world made possible by those who once turned the world upside down. We are the beneficiaries of a system of governance constructed to maximize individual power and minimize government control. We are the lucky souls who today walk in the giant footsteps pressed firmly into this land by those fighters willing to sacrifice anything and everything to bring "forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." We are the descendants of those brave generations who knew, without hesitation, that the price for victory invariably requires running toward the sound of gunfire. Too many Americans have been lost sprinting full-speed toward certain danger for the consummation of their efforts to be left abandoned, forgotten, and despoiled. Those of us here today owe too much to those who are not. The recognition that we are part of something greater than ourselves, that we are the temporary custodians of the only extant nation founded on a commitment to individual liberty, that our sacred honor requires us to sustain the blessings borne from tremendous sacrifice, that "We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth" — this is who we are! This is what we must never yield. This is why we fight. Whether it's Memorial Day or not, this is what unites us as Americans with a common purpose! Never forget.