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Memorial Day Truth

Memorial Day’s True Meaning? Freedom Comes At A Steep Price

Rod Thomson

Every Memorial Day there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of columns and articles written about the holiday, including many on the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of America is the primary reason, of course. But the overarching understanding that every American should take from this day of burgers, beaches and relaxing is not burgers, beaches and relaxing.

It’s that the freedoms underpinning the ability to enjoy those things and so much more come with a price — and sometimes that price is the steepest one of all.

This understanding began with our Founders, who when declaring freedom from a distant tyrant in the Declaration of Independence, concluded with this solemn oath:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Many of them paid the final price in the loss of their lives to ensure freedoms for the next generation. And every generation since has needed to fight in some fashion to protect or expand those freedoms. From the Civil War to the World Wars to the Cold War, from the War of 1812 to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. There were many other fronts in the battle for expanded freedoms, but today is about the wars, and men and women who died in them.

All of those who died in all of America’s wars have their place in the pantheon of defending freedoms. Not all conflicts were as clearly righteous as others, but all built towards the incredible freedoms we enjoy on this Memorial Day — freedoms that would not be available without the immense sacrifice in their lost lives.

These are inordinately young men whose lives were yet ahead of them, lives they never got to live so that others could.

I think of my Dad on this day. He survived World War II, although he was scarred for life from it. He was a P51 Mustang fighter pilot. He was shot down during the Battle of the Bulge and barely survived, but got back in another Mustang and went back at it.

After every flight, he returned to base in England and there was always the strong possibility that somebody he had breakfast with that morning did not return — and would never return. Sometimes a lot of them did not return. Making friends was risky. He was willing to give his life, as were the rest who climbed in their fighters and bombers day after day and flew into the deadly skies over Germany.

Those men died that others may be free. Europe is free today in large part due to their sacrifice. The evidence is in the graves of thousands of American soldiers in the fields of France, Belgium, Italy, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Many Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Indonesia are free of tyrannical occupiers to this day because of the sacrifice of American fighters. The evidence is in the graves of thousands of Americans in the Philippines.

And of course we have military cemeteries across our nation.

We honor those who fought and died in all of our wars. We remember their sacrifice. And we remember why they died. Because freedom is not free, it is only obtained and maintained at a price.

Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.


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Founders Freedom Memorial Day Truth

Memorial Day: Our Principles Are Still Worth Fighting For!

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

Our contemporary American experience seems often Orwellian. We have a Congress that denies our Rights in the name of security. We have a judiciary that often denies the Constitution and violates it by asserting a power to make law. Many patriots have expended a great deal of energy this year in the fight to see our Liberty protected and America’s greatness restored. We are all aware that there are still many struggles ahead and mountains yet to be conquered. But let us be reminded of a hope that is rooted firmly in the original American experience that makes our land so exceptional.

Our history is rich with men and women who have surrendered all so that many could live in the greatest place the world has ever known. For over 700 years before the Declaration of Independence, men and women were learning the lessons that would be taught to our founders. Lessons that would infuse our founders with the courage and hope that would build this exceptional land.

Patrick Henry said, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know no way to judge the future but by the past.” He was letting us know that his knowledge of those last 700 years, were the very reason he knew how this fight would turn out. He knew that every time men and women understood the value of Liberty and pledged all to protect it, they were always victorious.

These guarantees of history must have raced through Henry’s head; 1100 Charter of Liberties, Magna Carta, 1628 Petition of Right, 1641 Grand Remonstrance, and his very own Bill of Rights of 1689. These were battles fought in the name of Liberty and he knew that victory was a guarantee. This is our history. This is our guarantee. This is our victory!

We have so much to be thankful for. Let us not forget that Liberty is a gift that was purchased for us with great sacrifice. Among the many things we have to be thankful for, we must be eternally grateful for the wisdom of men and women that understood that Liberty was a gift from God and that all God’s gifts are worth our every sacrifice. John Adams, in a letter to Abigail in 1777 expressed this sacrifice.

“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

We must honor this sacrifice by honoring their memory and continuing their efforts. Too often I see the revisionism of our history in an effort to demean these men and women with the purpose of destroying our Constitution. We do not properly respect their efforts by allowing these lies to be taught to our sons and daughters. We must teach the truth. We owe it to them. We owe it to our children. It is our hope.

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I am not trying to give the founders some divine status or even suppose them a level of perfection that they did not have. We must understand that our Liberty was not founded upon people, but upon principles. The people that gave us our exceptional American principles were flawed vessels just like you and me. However, the really amazing part of this history is that flawed men understood that the foundation of an enduring union must be Liberty moored in morality.

Consider these words by Alexander Hamilton:

“Equal pains have been taken to deprave the morals as to extinguish the religion of the country [France], if indeed morality in a community can be separated from religion…The pious and moral weep over these scenes as a sepulcher destined to entomb all they revere and esteem.

“The politician who loves liberty sees them with regret as a gulf that may swallow up the liberty to which he is devoted. He knows that morality overthrown (and morality must fall with religion), the terrors of despotism can alone curb the impetuous passions of man, and confine him within the bounds of social duty.” The Stand, No. III (April 7, 1798)

Our founders knew that Liberty is a combination of two equally important parts — it is freedom under the constraints of moral law. Liberty cannot survive where there is pure freedom. Pure freedom gives man the right to do whatever is right in his own mind: cheat, lie, rob, murder. Pure freedom is anarchy. At the same time, Liberty cannot survive with moral law alone. Moral law not mingled with freedom is theocracy. Theocracy in the hands of men is tyranny in the name of religion. Our founders attempted give us this balance and secure the blessings of liberty for us in our founding documents. If we abandon our history, we abandon our founding documents and disregard our moral foundations, then liberty is in peril.

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Thomas Jefferson gave us this warning: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that is justice cannot sleep forever.”

While Benjamin Franklin warned America’s founders directly:

“In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection…. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of Superintending Providence in our favor…have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?…. God Governs in the affairs of  men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

Patrick Henry said “Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”

Did these brave men and women live without fear? Hardly so! Mercy Otis-Warren articulated this dilemma so well.

“I have my fears. Yet, notwithstanding the complicated difficulties that rise before us, there is no receding; May nothing ever check that glorious spirit if freedom which inspires the patriot in the cabinet and the hero in the field, with courage to maintain their righteous cause, and to endeavor to transmit the claim to posterity, even if they must seal the rich conveyance to their children with their own blood.”

They knew that bravery was not the absence of fear, but doing what you must in the face of fear. They knew that the battle for Liberty, as Mercy called it, was a righteous cause. Knowing the source of her courage is the key to understanding her resolve. Mercy wrote a letter to her friend Mrs. Macauley in 1774, from this letter we can know the source of her strength. She said they were “ready to sacrifice their devoted lives to preserve inviolate, and to convey to their children the inherent rights of men, conferred on all by the God of nature.”

The key to victory, the key to the courage that brings victory is not simply fighting the fight, but knowing we fight a righteous battle for the One who gave us that Liberty. Our founders were in a position to pledge their lives, the lives of their families, everything that they had because they were firmly rooted in all the assurances of Liberty. Our founders knew that Liberty is a gift from God, and those that stand for God’s gifts will be victorious through God’s promises. They firmly believed that living in tyranny was worse than dying for Liberty. They knew that through their faith in Christ, their rewards in standing for God’s gift would be certain, whether on the battlefield or in Heaven.

As Thomas Paine so eloquently put it, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” But Paine’s full statement gives a richness that is lost with the initial quote alone. Payne continues to tell us who will last in this battle and why they will last.

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing (sic) its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

If we want to have the resolve that Mercy Otis-Warren spoke of, the confidence that Patrick Henry displayed, we must know what Thomas Jefferson knew so we will not become the sunshine patriots Thomas Paine condemns. We must know Liberty is a gift from God. We must know this Gift, although coming at a high price, is worth fighting for because God is with us. If God be with us, who can be against us?

As an exceptional union built upon exceptional principles, we cannot deny that we are built with a foundational understanding of an exceptional God. Thomas Jefferson reminds us that, “We are not in a world ungoverned by the laws and the power of a Superior Agent. Our efforts are in His hand, and directed by it; and He will give them their effect in His own time.”

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Because of our historical understanding that America was built on the principles of freedom and morality, America has always been the haven of rest when tyrants oppress their own. She is the vineyard of innovation and opportunity. We are a people that open our arms to the tired, to the poor, to the oppressed, to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. No other people can claim this legacy; no other people have this birthright. This is the shining city upon a hill, and we cannot hide our light under a bush.

The focus of our education should not be on the flaws of the men who gave us our Constitution, but on the exceptional principles that they gave us. We have an exceptional union where “all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights.” A land birthed by the principle that the power of the government is to be held by the people and not where the government holds power over the people. A country that believes the principle that says all are free to worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and all are equally free, “Jews, Turks, pagans, and Christians.” We have prospered based on the principle that ideas and hard work open the door to prosperity regardless of bloodline, skin color or social status. A land that has remained free based on the principle that liberties remain secure by maintaining the right to defend self, property and Liberty.

In the profound words of Daniel Webster, “Is our Constitution worth preserving? Guard it as you would guard the seat of your life, guard it not only against the open blows of violence, but also against that spirit of change…Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years, cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once destroyed, would have a void to be filled, perhaps for centuries, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.” An Anniversary Address by Daniel Webster July 4th 1806

Let us maintain a true focus on what is important. In this day it is so popular to denigrate America for every little flaw. Why not take back a bit of American Exceptionalism? Why not embrace what makes us different from every other place on the globe? America is exceptional because we are built on exceptional principles. Principles of Liberty, freedom, morality, and equality as derived from our Creator. And these principles are STILL WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.


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Memorial Day Truth

Memorial Day: The Imperative Holiday We Cannot Lose

Rod Thomson

This is not your warm and fuzzy Memorial Day column. We have for too long subsumed Memorial Day into the trivialities of summer’s advent, backyard cookouts, a long weekend, bargain sales and vacations. It’s not universal but it is culturally broad.

This is a sad and dangerous devolution to a narcissistic day celebrating little more than the prurient pursuits of a day off, not the ultimate sacrifice of so many who died protecting our lofty ideals.

Cookouts and vacays are not why we have Memorial Day.

The more we lose our heritage, our founding principles, our moorings anchored to how we got to where we are, the more we lose who we are. And when we lose who we are, we are no more. We become another geographic location on the map, not an ideal, not a bright shining city on a hill.

And as exceptional and imperative as are the principles that created America and turned it into the most fundamentally world-changing nation for good in history, it could not have happened — or been maintained — without those willing to fight and die to protect her from centuries of tyrants and dictators around the world.

This is the hard reality we can never lose sight of: Freedom is not free. It must be fought for every generation, or it will be taken by those who do not love it. Always that battle is done with the proverbial pen and mic, by people such as me, along with good political leaders. But too often it must be done by huge numbers of brave men and women who are willing to kill and be killed to maintain those freedoms for others. Sometimes it has been to bring those freedoms to others.

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Yes, please thank a veteran. They risked the same. But remember, the ones you cannot thank are the ones who never came home; those who never got the flag-waving return, the glorious reunion hugs, the warmth and glow of family, even the struggles of reintegration from battlefield into a society of peace and laws.

The ones we cannot thank for their service are the ones we celebrate today, along with those family and friends that bore the brunt of their loss — who live without them daily because of what they gave for us.

So let us resolve to remember Memorial Day for what it truly is. Remind your friends and family before unloading the grill, before heading to the beach, before heading to a game, that this is a day of sober reflection, of remembrance of those whose chairs at the table are empty. If you have the courage, remind the server at the restaurant, the clerk at the gas station, the neighbor mowing the yard of what this day really means. Remind the young person who may not know.

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The only way we don’t lose Memorial Day’s profound meaning is if we as individual Americans find a tiny fraction of the courage of those no longer with us, to remind each other why we have this day — why we are still free, why we are who we are and must continue to be for the next generation.

And why we must always be grateful, and never forget.

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.


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Memorial Day Military Truth

Memorial Day: Legacy of The Last Full Measure

by Rep. Julio Gonzalez

(From a speech Florida Rep. Julio Gonzalez delivered at the 2017 Memorial Day Ceremony at Sarasota National Cemetery.)

Fellow veterans, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to address you on this most sacred and solemn occasion.  

“I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

These are arguably the most famous last words uttered by a patriot in faithful service to his country.  Of course, these particular words were uttered by Nathan Hale, a soldier in Washington’s Revolutionary Army, when he was captured by the British and prepared to be hanged. And let’s recall who Nathan Hale was. He was a graduate of Yale University. He was a teacher. He was barely 22 years old with all his life ahead of him, and he volunteered, not only to serve in the militia, but to go on his mission.  

But his were by no means the only last words.  

Some have said, “Tell my wife I love her.”

Others said, “Take care of my kids.”

And still others said, “I’ll go.”  

And, of course, there are countless men and women who died in service to this great nation who never even had the opportunity to share with us their final thoughts. Men and women who paid the ultimate price in the Middle East, at the World Trade Center, in the jungles of Vietnam and Korea, in the fields of Europe during World War II, and World War I with its trenches and all its atrocities, in the Pacific theater, during the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, among so many other wars and battles in our history.

 

Never forgetting those who gave all

Today, we take a moment to honor those patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us may live free and so that our way of life may long endure.

I tell you, it is small wonder that this nation that prides itself on its reverence to the liberties and rights of each and every member of society has given rise to the greatest fighting force known to man.  And I can assure you that the strength of our armies lie not in our accumulation of expensive equipment, or in our collection of gallant ships, or even in our war birds that are able to stealthily fly through the night. 

No. The greatest asset of our fighting force is the fine collection of selfless men and women who, despite knowing that theirs is a journey from which they may never return, volunteer to undertake it nevertheless

And they did it for us!  

These men and women put it all on the line, not because they hated what lay before them, but because they loved what stood behind them. They knew they were fighting for something so incredible; so magnificent, so unique, that it stood as an ideal that was worth sacrificing anyone’s life. They sacrificed because they knew that upon these United States of America laid humanity’s greatest hope.  They knew that they were part of a great experiment that redefined the relationship between man and government, and they knew that it was an experiment that cannot, under any circumstances, be allowed to fail.  

And with stakes as high as these, can we ever allow their deaths to go in vane?

 

Honor by teaching our children

As we remember and reflect upon the great and varied sacrifices our servicemembers have made for us throughout our history, let us resolve to not allow their efforts to fade into posterity. Let us acknowledge that it is not enough for us to remember their courage, their selflessness, and their sacrifice. If we are truly to honor their lives, and their deaths, then we must also pick up their bayonets and continue their march where they left off.  

Let us teach our children the meaning of their actions and the reasons for their sacrifices. Let’s remember that there are so many things greater than ourselves; things like our faiths, our families, and our country, and that none of these will long survive unless we are willing to fight, and yes, die, for their continued existence. Let us undertake each and every act as if the legacy of these fighting men and women depended on the success of each of our actions, because I assure you that they do.  

And let us resolve to continuously strive to serve as the great example for others to emulate and to recognize the great potential of a nation resigned to promote peace, even if such a peace means having to reluctantly pick up a sword.

If we do this, if we succeed in spreading love and justice to the rest of the world through our actions through our thoughts, through our government, and through our way of life, then the last words of General Robert McCormick who died in the hope of keeping a nation untied will remain fulfilled: “[that] the loss of ten thousand such lives as yours and mine would be nothing if their sacrifice would but save such a government as ours.”

May God keep every one of those who sacrificed for the benefit of our great nation close to Him; May He bless each one of us here assembled, and may God bless these United States of America.

 

Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and serves in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.