Originally published May 28, 2018
As we go into the full focus of Memorial Day weekend I would like us to think on more than time off and nice memes about military service shared across social media. I would like us to think about what that “service” we keep thanking people for really means, to us and to them. You see, I’ve known a few. Some who came back broken physically, mentally, and all kinds of other ways. I’ve known those who chose to serve when their only reason was because they were called, whether they understood the reasons we chose this particular battle or not. I’ve known those who in their heart of hearts just couldn’t do it because their faith or their ideals would not allow them. I’ve had at least five decades of accumulated experience to know the heart-wrenching choices made each and every time this country chooses to leave our homes and go do battle.
I am here to say something I feel is critical. Freedom may be won in the battlefield, but it is maintained, nurtured, and protected at home. Freedom is maintained through the support of those who served and those left behind. It is done by being involved in the day to day operations of a country by voting, by serving, by fighting every minute for truth—and understanding. If this country is ever going to reach a time when the vision of the people points in the same general direction? We have to learn to communicate. A house divided cannot stand.
Today I have seen a few posts that poked fun at certain teenagers who have declared their intent to do battle. They are doing so by reaching as many as they can through the vehicle of free speech—our number one and arguably most important right. And yet there are those that scoff and say they wouldn’t last a minute in a battle field. Excuse me? They did. Without boot camp, without weapons, without Kevlar, helmets or kits—they survived a point in time when the active shooter drill was a drill no longer. We have students in this country that assume that one day, some person upset about who knows what will walk through their school doors and young people, teachers, and “resource” officers will have to make split second decisions about sacrificing their lives to save others. Have you given thought about how you would respond? Really?
I love this country with all my heart. I know that there have been sacrifices beyond imagination to keep me safe in my privilege. But I also know there are unsung heroes among us, people who cared about those around them, who did not hesitate when the moment came to choose between their own safety and that of others.
This Memorial Day I want to think about all of those who have given their lives in pursuit of a dream. A dream that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.