As we honor our nation’s fallen, let us also honor the nation for which they fell, for the two are inseparable.
We are a warrior nation of sorts, but our warriors are, and always have been defenders, not conquerors. We have defended our own nation, as well as peoples in foreign lands who could not defend themselves. The warriors we honor paid the ultimate price to make the world a better place, and their sacrifice has not been in vain.
This is what separates us from previous great civilizations, and that difference is the one that defines us.
Imagine the history of the past 100 years without the United States. That history would have been far more brutal but for the sacrifices that this country has made, in the blood of its warriors and the treasure of its generous people. The world today would be a far darker place but not for our existence and intervention.
In the history of mankind, what other nation has so selflessly contributed to the safety, security and overall betterment of all mankind, and literally asked for nothing in return but its own safety and security? We have taken the great philosophies of past great civilizations and, in many ways perfected them, at least to the extent than man can perfect anything.
While our history is not without its sinister periods, slavery in particular, we have confronted those evils and changed them. We have made mistakes, admitted them, and looked ahead to a brighter future rather than wallowing in the past.
So, as we remember those who have given their all for this bold idea that we call “the United States of America”, let us renew and recommit ourselves to that idea. We are now living in perilous times, fractured in many ways and for many reasons. There are those who find that apologies are in order and placation of the enemies of all we hold dear is the easiest road to peace and prosperity, for our nation and the world.
I reject that notion.
The road to peace and prosperity has never been, and never will be, short and easy; neither for us or the world. It is only with perseverance, faith in our abilities as Americans, and unswerving belief in America’s singular uniqueness in the whole of man’s history, that this journey can be completed and we must lead, not follow.
Those who we honor on this Memorial Day gave us the map; all we need do is follow it.