For many Americans, this day has become nothing more than a holiday, and, as odd as that may sound, that is to be expected. Despite almost a decade and a half of continuous warfare overseas, our armed forces have so effectively removed our land from the grim reality of the death and destruction of war, that a day meant to commemorate our military dead seems to have no more meaning to the average citizen than the unofficial start of summer, or as the day of the great mattress sale. Perhaps, that is just the normal progression of things.
Nevertheless, it is more than good and proper that those who have given their lives in the service of their country be remembered by somebody, anybody, if for no other reason than all of us are diminished if we don’t. The maintenance of personal values requires periodically remembering that there are bigger things in the world than yourself. We have all been touched in some way by the sacrifices of those who, as Lincoln said, “gave the last full measure of devotion.” To take such devotion for granted is simply wrong.
On the surface, our leaders in government seem to know this. “They fought for your freedom” is one of the most common political phrases around. Memorial Day is an opportunity for politicos around the country, from the President all the way down to the local mayor, to gather at the flagpole and show that they keep faith with the fallen.
But it takes more than a yearly ceremony to keep faith. It takes an acknowledgment that what they died for still matters. It takes a demonstration in everyday living that what they valued is still alive. For the health of the Republic, our elected leaders need to put certain ideals into practice.
What do we see, then, in our great country?
The repeated invasions of countries or initiating acts of war for the most specious of reasons, sometimes at the exclusive behest of the President.
The purposeful killing of American citizens overseas by our government without public evidence, warrant or a trial.
Admissions by our government that its officials authorized torture, and a Vice President who endorsed them.
Intelligence agencies repeatedly spying on millions of citizens without a warrant, and then lying to Congress and the people about it, without consequence.
Courts that find the spying illegal, but then allow the guilty agencies to continue what they are doing.
By law, warrantless, reporting of everyday financial transactions of ordinary citizens to the government.
Civil confiscation laws that take people’s property without evidence or trial, and make the victim prove their innocence instead of the government proving their guilt.
Structuring laws that make any person a criminal for spending their money in any way they see fit.
DHS procedures that quietly but firmly require an Individual to be cleared by the government each and every time they travel or that person will not be allowed to use commercial transportation, no matter what their reason, again, without evidence, warrant or a trial.
Inspections by the TSA that violate the Fourth Amendment and qualify as sexual battery in Florida.
Trillions of dollars in new debt to pay for a security bureaucracy, and taxation that reduces everyone to mere renters from the government.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, no senior government official ever goes to jail for any crime.
Is this what Valley Forge, Omaha Beach, and Desert Storm were about? Did those who fought for our freedom for the last 240 years fight for this?
Ceremonies can be touching. They have a place in the process of remembrance. However, it would be a far more fitting tribute to those who fell if our leaders upheld the rule of law instead of merely saluted a flagpole. Memorial Day should be more than just propagating the illusion that liberty continues as it always has in the USA. It is quite clear that liberty is under attack.
After all, what soldier sacrificed his life for massive debt, fewer liberties and endless war?
Pete Blome is a retired military officer and Chairman of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party.