Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  It's a day set aside to respect the memories of those men and women of America's armed forces who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Okay, but what does that mean?

Part of this is rooted in American Exceptionalism.  Unfortunately, most people in the U.S. and across the globe believe that American Exceptionalism is an ego trip devised by Americans to make themselves think they're awesome.  President Obama and his supporters in the media also think this way.

This is entirely wrong.  

American Exceptionalism is an acknowledgment that, of all the countries that sprang up before it, the United States is the exception in human history.  The framers of the U.S. Constitution were brilliant, learned men.  They'd studied the great philosophers like Charles de Montesquieu, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes, and adopted the principles learned from them into the Constitution. They enshrined in this country's founding documents first and foremost the God-given rights of the individual. They deliberately limited their own power to govern despite the blood they'd personally shed to achieve liberty from England's tyranny*. That's different. That's the exception.  That's what's exceptional.  Prior to the founding of the U.S., the vast majority of human beings were born under tyranny, even slavery.

We can have long discussions about America's place in the world, what its current role should be, its history, etc, but without considering this first principle of American Exceptionalism, all arguments are incomplete.  America hasn't cornered the market on freedom, but we have built freedom's primacy into our country's very foundation.

Without the sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform, the American experiment would have been strangled in its crib.  There would be no American Exceptionalism.  There would be no America.

It's fine if you think America's latest military excursions have been unnecessary, even wrong.  I disagree, but disagreement is also built into America's system of government.  Nevertheless, if you're an American, you owe it to the people who fought and died on America's behalf to spare a few thoughts about them today.

They've left grieving loved ones behind to tend graves, light candles and shed tears.  They did so for love of country.

I don't take their sacrifice for granted.

May your Memorial Day be a thoughtful one, filled with family and friends.

*Of course, we Americans value our alliance with the UK, and respect its people like none other.  Brothers occasionally fight, but we're still brothers.

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