"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States." — John Adams.
This Memorial Day morning I had to get up at 05:00 to take my daughter to the Ontario Airport to catch a flight to Dallas, Texas. Traffic was light and the trip to the airport was easy and quick. On the way home we passed the Medal of Honor Cemetery in Riverside, California. I immediately began regretting that I did not have my camera with me so I could stop at the cemetery and take some photos of all the little American Flags posted at each grave site. The last time I attempted to enter the cemetery on a Memorial Day the line to get in was huge. Perhaps tomorrow I will drive up early in the morning and see if the flags are still there.
Fortunately last night I watched on PBS the 25th Memorial Day Concert from the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C. This was a very inspiring program hosted by Gary Senise and Joe Mantegna, one of the stars of the CBS show “Criminal Minds.” Both are patriots who devote of the time and treasure to support our veterans. This show was produced to honor the veterans, alive and dead, with many in attendance. It was jot, as most Hollywood-type productions are made to honor the stars.
Memorial Day provides a stark contrast between the best of our nation's Patriot sons and daughters versus the worst of our nation's civilian culture of consumption.
Amid the sparse, reverent observances of the sacrifices made by millions of American Patriots who paid the full price for Liberty, in keeping with their sacred oaths, we are inundated at every turn with the commercialization of Memorial Day by vendors who are too ignorant and/or selfish to honor this day in accordance with its purpose.
Indeed, Memorial Day has been sold out, along with Washington's Birthday, Independence Day, Veterans, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. And it's no wonder, as government schools no longer teach civics or any meaningful history, and courts have excluded God (officially) from the public square.
According to Michelle Malkin writing in Human Events:
“A government that fails to secure its borders is guilty of dereliction of duty. A government that fails to care for our men and women on the frontlines is guilty of malpractice. A government that puts the needs of illegal aliens above U.S. veterans for political gain should be prosecuted for criminal neglect bordering on treason.
Compare, contrast, and weep:
In Sacramento, Calif., lawmakers are moving forward with a budget-busting plan to extend government-funded health insurance to at least 1.5 million illegal aliens.
In Los Angeles, federal bureaucrats callously canceled an estimated 40,000 diagnostic tests and treatments for American veterans with cancer and other illnesses to cover up a decade-long backlog.
In New York, doctors report that nearly 40 percent of their patients receiving kidney dialysis are illegal aliens. A survey of nephrologists in 44 states revealed that 65 percent of them treat illegal aliens with kidney disease.
In Memphis, a VA whistleblower reported that his hospital was using contaminated kidney dialysis machines to treat America’s warriors. The same hospital previously had been investigated for chronic overcrowding at its emergency room, leading to six-hour waits or longer. Another watchdog probe found unconscionable delays in processing lab tests at the center. In addition, three patients died under negligent circumstances, and the hospital failed to enforce accountability measures.
In Arizona, illegal aliens incurred health care costs totaling an estimated $700 million in 2009.
In Phoenix, at least 40 veterans died waiting for VA hospitals and clinics to treat them, while government officials created secret waiting lists to cook the books and deceive the public about deadly treatment delays.
At the University of California at Berkeley, UC President Janet Napolitano (former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security) has offered $5 million in financial aid to illegal alien students. Across the country, 16 states offer in-state tuition discounts for illegal aliens: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. In addition, the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and the University of Michigan Board of Regents all approved their own illegal alien tuition benefits.
In 2013, the nation’s most selective colleges and universities had enrolled just 168 American veterans, down from 232 in 2011. Anti-war activists have waged war on military recruitment offices at elite campuses for years. The huge influx of illegal aliens in state universities is shrinking the number of state-subsidized slots for vets.
In 2013, the Obama Department of Homeland Security released 36,007 known, convicted criminal illegal aliens, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The catch-and-release beneficiaries include thugs convicted of homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and thousands of drunk or drugged driving crimes.
The same Department of Homeland Security issued a report in 2009 that identified returning combat veterans as worrisome terrorist and criminal threats to America.
In Washington, Big Business and open-borders lobbyists are redoubling efforts to pass another massive illegal alien amnesty to flood the U.S. job market with low-wage labor.
Across the country, men and women in uniform returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan have higher jobless rates than the civilian population. The unemployment rate for new veterans has spiked to its worst levels, nearing 15 percent. For veterans ages 24 and under, the jobless rate is a whopping 29.1 percent, compared to 17.6 percent nationally for the age group.
A Forbes columnist reported last year that an Air Force veteran was told: “We don’t hire your kind.”
It should be noted here that the “evil” Wal-Mart Company has pledged to hire 100,000 vets by 2016. To date the company has hired 22,000 vets and counting. This is the company the Democratic Party’s union supporters hate and call evil for the non-union policies.
“And last December, Democrats led the charge to reduce cost-of-living increases in military pensions — while blocking GOP Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions’ efforts to close a $4.2 billion loophole that allows illegal aliens to collect child tax credits from the IRS, even if they pay no taxes. The fraudulent payments to illegal aliens would have offset the cuts to veterans’ benefits.
America: medical and welfare welcome mat to the rest of the world, while leavings its best and bravest veterans to languish in hospital lounges, die waiting for appointments, and compete for jobs and educational opportunities against illegal border-crossers, document fakers, visa violators and deportation evaders. “
And we still have Marine Vet languishing in a Mexican jail while our government does nothing to get him home. Shame on us.
In his essay "The Contest In America," 19th-century libertarian philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
It is that "decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling" which accounts for why so many "miserable creatures" have downgraded Memorial Day to nothing more than a date to exploit for commercial greed and avarice. While units large and small of America's Armed Forces stand in harm's way around the globe, many Americans are too preoccupied with beer, barbecue and baseball to pause and recognize the priceless burden borne by generations of our uniformed Patriots. Likewise, many politicos will use Memorial Day as a soapbox to feign Patriotism, while in reality they are in constant violation of their oaths to our Constitution.
That notwithstanding, there are still tens of millions of genuine American Patriots who will set aside the last Monday in May to honor all those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen who have refreshed the Tree of Liberty with their blood, indeed with their lives, so that we might remain the proud and free.
Since the opening salvos of the American Revolution, nearly 1.2 million American Patriots have died in defense of Liberty. Additionally, 1.4 million have been wounded in combat, and tens of millions more have served honorably, surviving without physical wounds. These numbers, of course, offer no reckoning of the inestimable value of their service or the sacrifices borne by their families, but we do know that the value of Liberty extended to their posterity — to us — is priceless.
Who were these brave souls?
In the Civil War an estimated 620,000 Americans died
In the First World War there were 417,465 military deaths from all causes with 204,000 wounded, many of which were permanently disabled.
In the Second World War over 16 million served and 420,000 of those made the ultimate sacrifice with 670,000 wounded. Some with wounds that never healed. Today less than 10% of those members of that “Greatest Generation” are still with us. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with and interview five of those members in 2008.
The Korean War gave us another 36,000 dead with 92,000 wounded.
The Vietnam War caused 58,209 military deaths, the names of all of which are carved into the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. Another 153,000 were wounded, some with severe mental problems and are suffering at the hands of the Veterans Administration’s failed health care system.
Finally the Iraq-Afghanistan war, with Afghanistan being the longest war in our nation’s history has given us 6,717 killed (Iraq 4,488, Afghanistan 2,229) and 50,897 wounded (Iraq 32,222, Afghanistan 18,675) with many more suffering the effects of PTSD, a mental disabling disease that will affect them the rest of their lives. It should also be pointed out that due to the advances in battlefield medicine roughly 60% of those wounded would have died in previous wars. No it is up to the corrupt Veterans Administration to provide life-time care for these brave volunteers. And this does not take into account the suffering the families of these fallen and wounded have to endure.
On 12 May 1962, Gen. Douglas MacArthur addressed the cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, delivering his farewell speech, "Duty, Honor and Country." He described the legions of uniformed American Patriots as follows: "Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms”.
Gen. MacArthur continued:
“His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast.
But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements.
In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people.
From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage. As I listened to those songs of the glee club, in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.
I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as they saw the way and the light.”
Duty. Honor. Country — these are not for bargain sale or discount.
On Memorial Day of 1982, President Ronald Reagan offered these words in honor of Patriots interred at Arlington National Cemetery: "I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. Words are even more feeble on this Memorial Day, for the sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them. Yet, we must try to honor them not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice."
President Reagan continued:
“Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we -- in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves.
It is this, beyond the controversy and the congressional debate, beyond the blizzard of budget numbers and the complexity of modern weapons systems, that motivates us in our search for security and peace. . The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery.
One gets that feeling here on this hallowed ground, and I have known that same poignant feeling as I looked out across the rows of white crosses and Stars of David in Europe, in the Philippines, and the military cemeteries here in our own land. Each one marks the resting place of an American hero and, in my lifetime, the heroes of World War I, the Doughboys, the GIs of World War II or Korea or Vietnam. They span several generations of young Americans, all different and yet all alike, like the markers above their resting places, all alike in a truly meaningful way.
As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. I can't claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don't know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: "O! say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?" That is what we must all ask.”
For the Fallen, we are certain of that which is noted on all Marine Corps Honorable Discharge orders: "Fideli Certa Merces" — to the faithful there is certain reward.
Thomas Jefferson offered this enduring advice to all generations of Patriots: "Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them."
We owe a great debt of gratitude to all those generations who have passed the Torch of Liberty to succeeding generations. In accordance, I humbly ask that each of you call upon all those around you to observe Memorial Day with reverence.
In honor of American Patriots who have died in defense of our great nation, lower your flag to half-staff from sunrise to 1200 on Monday. (Read about proper flag etiquette and protocol.) Join us by observing a time of silence at 1500 (your local time), for remembrance and prayer. Offer a personal word of gratitude and comfort to any surviving family members you know who are grieving for a beloved warrior fallen in battle.
On this and every day, please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces now standing in harm's way around the world in defense of our liberty, and for the families awaiting their safe return.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." — John 15:12-14