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Richard Larsen: A Memorial Day Challenge

June 1st, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Memorial Day, that “holy day” when we commemorate the ultimate sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform for our liberty, is so much more than a picnic, or a weekend getaway. It is a day of reflection for those sacrifices made by so many, that hundreds of millions may enjoy even a modicum of freedom and liberty today.

It is a day to pause from the daily grind and celebrate the lives, and even the deaths, of those who have perpetuated this Republic, this One Nation Under God. It is a day to reassess our own convictions to the principles that those who have worn the uniform of our young nation were willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to preserve the legacy of liberty from one generation to another. The torch of Madam Liberty has been successfully passed from the earliest generations of Americans to those who yet wear the uniform. And to them we owe our all.

There is nothing we can do which can repay those who have so sacrificed that we might be free, but everything we do does count in some small way. Abraham Lincoln put into proper perspective what we do to celebrate the lives of those who have been willing to pay the uttermost farthing for our freedom. “In a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Civil War has long since ended, yet the veracity of Lincoln’s statement rings equally true today as it did 150 years ago. We cannot hallow the ground where our brave have fallen. They consecrated it with their blood and their lives. And not only the ground fought over during our Civil War, but around the globe where we have fought to prevent expansion of Godless, liberty destroying communism, the fiendish tyranny of dictators and freedom-trampling totalitarians around the world.

Regardless of the circumstances and the politics involved in their deployment, our service men and women have answered the call for the preservation and expansion of liberty. Regardless of the illogical orders of engagement often negotiated by civilian leaders, the uniformed have answered the call and done so with courage, honor, and humanity.

The few historical examples of impropriety by a few within those noble ranks do not tarnish the sacrifice and service of the many, but rather provide testament to the noble character of those who serve. That over so many years, there would be so few exceptions, validates the service and sacrifice of those millions who have worn the uniform with dignity, respect, and honor.

Unlike great nations in the past who have expanded their borders and their domain by unrighteous wielding of their military might, this nation seeks only enough ground to bury those who have fallen in battle for the liberty of those nations. We are not an imperial power, but a power which seeks to neutralize the nefarious forces which seek conquest and subjugation for aggrandizing purposes.

Ronald Reagan declared, “Let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.” As a reminder of liberty’s fragility, he also said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

May we as Americans collectively rise up in valor equal to the conviction of those who have hallowed many lands with their blood, and stand against foes, foreign and domestic, who seek to curtail and abridge our freedom. May we adopt as our personal motto that of the Marines, “Semper Fidelis,” and be likewise ever faithful to those Constitutional principles that so many have given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve.

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