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May I re-think Memorial Day?Posted Friday, May 22, 2009, at 8:03 AM
Our middle son Matthew is a Warrant Officer in the United States Army.
This is the same rank my father had during World War II. During the first Gulf Conflict, our eldest, Kenneth, served in the Air Force. In case I've failed to mention it to you or them, I am very proud of our sons and their service to America.
These personal references are introduced in hopes of softening the path I have been thinking of taking for some time.
Memorial Day is designated to honor those who gave the "ultimate sacrifice." On this day, we will hear again about the men and women who have died to "keep us free." I think this latter declaration a misnomer at very best.
As I understand history, since the Civil War of 1860-65, no American soldier has been called upon to give his or her life for the liberty and pursuit of happiness of the people of the United States of America.
This is not to say the sacrifice of our servicemen and women is not commendable, noteworthy and brave. What I am saying is that it is a mistake to say they died for "our" freedom. They did not.
With any exceptions, the reader is free to point out, our military has largely been called upon to die for the freedom of other peoples in other lands.
Without attempting to be exhaustive, these are the major encounters of the U.S. military since the Civil War:
* Spanish-American War,
* World War I,
* World War II,
* Kuwait, and
In which of these did Americans die for or in defense of our freedoms?
Whatever you think of war (and I for one am 'agin it), America has largely gone to war because others needed us to preserve their freedom. We did so (although it is no longer politically correct to say it) because we thought ourselves a "Christian nation," which ought to behave as such.
As a Christian nation, should we have entered these wars?
I for one am prepared to offer defense for only two of these adventures. For good or for bad, however, history cannot be changed. To war we went and young men and women died.
Memorial Day, I propose, comes down to this: With possibly few exceptions, Americans have not been called upon to defend the freedom and liberty of Americans. This, too, is history.
Does it give less honor to our dead if we admit we honor them for giving their lives for the freedom of other nations and other peoples? I think not.
It seems more honorable that they had nothing to gain for themselves.
Will we see a day when it can be truly said that American men and women died to preserve and defend America itself? I (very politically incorrectly) pray not.
David L. Lewis is an observer of an sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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