Another Memorial Day is upon us, and between the burgers and backyard games, it’s fitting to take a moment to remember what the day marks.
While Veterans Day in November honors all members of the Armed Forces, Memorial Day specifically remembers those who died in service of our country. More specifically, it honors those killed in combat to make sure we can live as free men and women working to continue the great American experiment of indirect democracy and individual freedom, as the Founders wished.
Many years ago, I ran across a poem written in 1970 by U.S. Army veteran Charles Michael Province, which spells out how a soldier’s sacrifice underpins our system of government and way of life. Province’s moving poem is “It is the Soldier:”
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
As Province points out, the minister, protester, poet, politician, campus organizer and lawyer would be silenced and crushed if not for the founding documents and militiamen that forged this great country, and the modern soldier who protects those freedoms from vanishing. Without soldiers to defend it, freedom dies. And without freedom, America dies.
Unfortunately, this Memorial Day, as we listen to Democrat presidential hopefuls praise the ideas of socialism, our country is in a sad state when it comes to personal liberty. We need to, once again, embrace our liberties or else we’ll lose them to the tyranny of the collective.
Freedom isn’t free, as the saying goes, but it also isn’t cheap. It takes self-reliance, personal responsibility and hard work. America without individual freedom and individual enterprise is not America. It’s something other. It’s anti-America. Democrat politicians’ promises of an easy life through collectivism and government control will make us weaker, not stronger, as a country.
Americans, when we’re in our right minds and not under the influence of Utopian promise peddlers like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are a hardy bunch. We don’t want the government intruding on our lives and responsibilities. We want to pay off our college loans. We want to enjoy private health insurance, rather than a government-imposed plan. We want to work for our own food and shelter. We take pride in accomplishing such tasks, and we don’t want the government denying our ability to care for ourselves.
Democrats seem to be offering us Eden’s apple in return for government takeover of our lives. It’s a tempting offer, and many are falling for the lie. But just as the brave soldier puts himself in harm’s way on actual battlefields, average citizens need to be brave to keep freedom’s light blazing on the battlefield of political ideas.
Freedom was hard-fought and won by generations of American soldiers. Let’s rededicate ourselves this Memorial Day to shun anti-American ideas such as collectivism and once again embrace the risks and rewards of liberty.
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.