“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The idea that gave birth to America was unheard of at that time. It was a brand new concept on governance. Until that time, people’s lives were subject to the whims of monarchs, tyrants and the ruling class. People questioned the legitimacy of the ruling class to their own peril. Then out of nowhere, a group of upstarts introduced this new concept that Governments are accountable to the people, and that people have the right to change their Government when the Government fails the people. The idea in itself was revolutionary, and if allowed to take root would greatly upset the status quo, and cause major problems for the ruling class.
The founding fathers declared their independence based on the ideas found in the declaration of independence and broke their ties to the British Empire. The mighty British empire could not allow these ideas to become established and they sent their powerful Military to ensure that they did not. Standing in the way of the British though was a small group of men who believed so strongly in their ideas that they were willing to die for them, and many of them did. This began the process that has lead to the country that we have today, but to get here we have always had to call on the select few who are willing to fight for, and even give their lives to preserve the ideals on which the country was founded.
The founding fathers and their posterity continued to build on the principles that were at the heart of their revolutionary ideas. Built into the system that they developed were the mechanisms that allowed them to continue improving on policies that were unjust. With these new ideas and the way of thinking, America made tremendous forward strides politically, economically, socially, militarily and in other ways, at an unprecedented pace. Quite frankly the world had never seen anything like it before nor since. The concept that all men are created equal and that freedom is a gift, and a right from God, not the Government, allowed mankind to thrive as never before. Nations that adopted aspects of Americas system experienced similar prosperity. In stark contrast, places that outright rejected these principles experience the extreme opposite. People live in poverty, corruption is widespread, people fear for their lives, curable diseases still wreak havoc on the health of citizens and they often have much lower mortality rates.
Today, as America stands as the most prosperous and free nation that the world has ever known, many Americans wake up each day without a thought of what is required for them to continue enjoying the freedoms they have, and the prosperity they enjoy. Many complain about all that is wrong in America without ever fully appreciating that the lives we live , the standard of living that we are blessed to have, simply did not exist before this great American experiment. This is how good life is in America! It is so good, that because it is not perfect; many think that they live in a fundamentally unjust society. In other words, they hold the country to a standard of perfection that is impossible to meet. Americans who think this way have the right to do this. Those who take for granted the life that they live can do so because of those who stand as the guardians of our way of life. Those who stand ready to defend this nation are prepared to do it against all enemies, whether these enemies are foreign or domestic.
While people literally sleep, oblivious to the dangers in the world all around them, there are men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep Americans safe. America’s history is filled with men and women of this calibre. They were present in the battle of Lexington, and they were there again at the battle of Louisiana when a few rag tag citizens resisted and pushed back the mighty British Military one more time in their second attempt to teach these upstart Americans a lesson. The grit and determination of these Americans committed to keeping their countrymen safe was demonstrated by the “lost battalion” in the Argonne Forest, and in trenches across Europe in world war one. They stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War two. Many of them never made it back alive. They gave their lives on the Korean Peninsula in the forgotten war and when the nation was divided, they gave their lives in the Jungles of Vietnam. The story is no different today as many families mourn the loss of loved ones killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Some say all that is needed, is for everyone to put down their arms and no one will ever have to die in needless wars and conflicts again. This naivety ignores what we know about human nature. Human beings have a propensity toward violence and evil in general. Many have no problem giving in to this tendency, so whereas in a perfect world there would be no need for Armies; the reality is that we do not live in a perfect world. In this reality, we will continue to depend on those who we memorialize on this day. As we honor the memory of those who die in service to our country let us not forget our law enforcement officers who also give their lives to keep our citizens safe.
Have a solemn yet happy Memorial Day.