Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hail to those who keep us free

This has been a very busy week. On Sunday morning, it was all over the web and numbers of liberal news sites that Karl Rove was certain to be indicted on Monday morning. I hear they’re still waiting on that one. Also, Monday morning, “Red Ken” Livingstone, as mayor of London, entertained Venezuela’s fascist leader, Hugo Chavez in a bash-America fest. On Monday evening, the President of the United States gave a speech on all the major networks during prime-time (effectively delaying the season finale of Prison Break and the season’s penultimate episode of 24, frustrating those who, like me, are addicted to that particular thrill-ride). By Tuesday morning, nearly everybody on the far right was saying Bush’s speech was pandering to the left, and the far left (led by the ACLU) was saying Bush is a racist and/or a fascist. Barry Bonds got booed at some baseball games and the Dixie Chicks got booed by some country music fans over their new release. And that’s just between Saturday midnight and noon Tuesday.

Of course, you may have noticed there is absolutely nothing new in any of this, except that 24 has, to my knowledge, never before been postponed by Fox. In other words, very little of substance changes in this country, no matter how much anybody tries to tell you differently.
A major part of the reason for our remarkable stability has been our Constitution and the men and women who defend her. And, no, I'm not talking about lawyers and politicians and their ilk. I’m talking about the people who truly stand between us and tyranny -- the men and women serving in all branches of our military. These citizens risk life and limb in order to continue to guarantee our freedom, and to assist others in their efforts to share in that freedom. As the saying goes, all sacrifice some, some sacrifice all. They deserve every ounce of respect and gratitude we can muster. As Admiral Forrest P. Sherman said on the third Saturday of May in 1953, "(I)t is he--the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine--who has fought to preserve freedom. It is his valor that has given renewed hope to the free world that by working together in discipline and faith our ideals of freedom will always prevail."*

John F. Kennedy offered his perspective, a decade later: "...Our Servicemen and women are serving throughout the world as guardians of peace--many of them away from their homes, their friends and their families. They are visible evidence of our determination to meet any threat to the peace with measured strength and high resolve. They are also evidence of a harsh but inescapable truth--that the survival of freedom requires great cost and commitment, and great personal sacrifice."

And, in 1967, General Earle G. Wheeler, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “Each serviceman, wherever he may be, whatever his task, contributes directly and importantly to the defense of the nation. The task of each one is the task of all the Armed Forces: to protect the freedoms which underlie the greatness of America."

I know that the members of my family who wore uniforms will always have my deepest respect and admiration -- as well as my love and affection. Without their courage and dedication -- and that of their fellows -- we would all have so very little.

This week has been -- and continues to be, through Sunday -- Armed Forces Week. Saturday, 20 May, (the third Saturday of the month) is Armed Forces Day. Since 1949, we have had this specific, focused opportunity to celebrate the finest of our nation for their patriotic service. I ask that all who cherish liberty take the time to observe Armed Forces Day with due humility and respect. If you see or know of somebody in uniform, please share with him or her your appreciation. Write a letter to somebody serving overseas. Visit with those recovering from wounds, or simply offer to give aid to military family members whose loved ones are far away.

Certainly, amid the business as usual, a day of acknowledgment is the very least we can do.

*Armed Forces Day information and quotes from Sherman, Kennedy and Wheeler (as well as others) can be found via the official Department of Defense website, DefenseLINK: Armed Forces Day

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