By Alan Caruba
Anyone who has ever worn the uniform of his nation feels differently about Memorial Day than those who have not had that privilege. There is a bond between soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen.
Whether we fought on the battlefield or just protected the nation during the Cold War, we took an oath, not dissimilar from that which the President takes, to protect and preserve the Constitution.
The great lesson of history is that democracy must be defended because it has many enemies. While it has spread to many parts of the world, vast populations still live under tyranny in Africa, in China, in Russia, in the Middle East, and elsewhere.
Sometimes I think the entire argument over the war in Iraq is one over whether this nation has the courage to defend and extend democracy. As unpopular as President Bush is and probably deserves to be, he is still right that the expansion of democracy is the best way to undermine the forces of evil that would enslave populations and would do harm to our nation.
It is much easier to do that harm these days. A single nuclear device could destroy an entire city. A biological weapon could sicken and kill thousands.
When a person like Mamoud Amadinejad openly calls for the destruction of the “Great Satan”, America, and the “Little Satan”, Israel, we need to take him at his word. It is not so much the millions of Iranians we need fear as the handful of despots who rule them through fear and intimidation.
Memorial Day is about courage.
If we lack the courage to defend our nation, even if that requires we send our best young men and women to fight on the other side of the globe, we will lose our nation here at home. If we lack the courage to fight for our beliefs, our values, we shall surely lose them to a conquering enemy, either within or beyond our shores.
We honor the courage of those from Valley Forge to Gettysburg, from Normandy to Iwo Jima, and now to Baghdad and Kabul, who fought and sometimes gave their lives for the freedoms we too often take too lightly.
It takes courage to be free. It takes none to be a slave.