May 30th, 2005

For Memorial Day: freedom isn’t free

Austin Bay delivered this Memorial Day speech in Texas a few days ago, at the request of a group called “Tejanos in Action.” Reading the speech, and speculating on what many of my liberal or leftist friends would think of it (and, knowing it’s always dangerous to speak for others, I’m writing this with the caveat that I could be wrong about their reactions), I came to the conclusion that I don’t think they would understand his speech in the way it was meant. To them, it would sound like mere platitudes and cliches.

I am virtually certain that all of my friends feel sorrow at the death of young men and women in the military–they are not cold-hearted, far from it. But I think they see them as victims, not as people who freely chose to do this, knowing that the possible cost might be their very lives. And yes, I know that not all in the military, especially those in the Guard, thought all of this through when they signed up. But I believe that the majority of those in the military were well aware of the risks when they enlisted.

I don’t think most of my friends can conceive of a person making such a choice of his/her own free will. And of course it is difficult to comprehend; that kind of courage is not ordinary, and will never be ordinary. I think my friends look on military volunteers of today as being either bloodthirsty warmongers (the minority), or poverty-stricken and brainwashed cannon fodder who have no idea what they’re getting into (the majority). Someone such as Lance Corporal Perez, of whom Austin Bay speaks, a young man who served in the Marines and was killed in Iraq, would probably be seen as the quintessential victim of Bush, Rumsfeld, et. al., because of his Hispanic heritage.

I think my friends would certainly understand this part of Bay’s speech:

Military service is hard service. Everyone who’s ever worn the uniform knows that. It is a special burden, particularly in a free society.

The idea of hardship is one with which they would agree, and the idea of burden. But not the sad necessity of it, expressed in this part of the speech:

In some ways it is the hardest job as well as the most necessary job. It is the job of the soldier that makes our liberty possible, and it is our liberty that makes everything else possible.

Many, if not most, of my friends live in a dreamworld where such things can be avoided, if only we listened to and revered the UN, Europe, and Jimmy Carter. There is no problem that can’t be solved with love, understanding, and talk. Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but not by a whole lot, I’m afraid. Would that they were correct, and that human nature worked this way!

I was watching the news the other day–I think it was MSNBC, but I’m not certain. They had a feature on a young Hispanic man who had been killed in Iraq. I don’t think he was the same young man of whom Bay spoke, Lance Corporal Perez, but it’s possible that he might have been, because this man had also been nineteen years old when he died, as I recall. The news showed wonderful photos of a handsome and smiling young man who looked nearly like a kid (well, he wasn’t so far away from having been one, was he?), and an interview with his father.

The father’s courage and dignity were almost unbearably moving. It seems the young man was not a citizen, but he’d signed up anyway. The father showed some sort of memorial statuette of the twin towers that he owned, and he pointed to it and said that the son had been greatly affected by 9/11, and determined to join and serve. The father said he’d asked his son, if he had to join up, why couldn’t he be something like a cook? But the son had said no; he felt he needed to do more than that. Then the father went over to an American flag he had on his wall, and put his finger on one of the red stripes, and said something like this (only far more eloquently), “When I see this red stripe, it symbolizes the blood of my son and all the others who died so that we could be free–because freedom isn’t free.”

Heartbreaking and well said, on this Memorial Day.

24 Responses to “For Memorial Day: freedom isn’t free”

  1. Jaycen Rigger Says:

    Ho Chi Minh – Apt handle for you. Saddam stole power in his country, violently. He was not helped into the position by the American government in anyway. I can’t speak on the Taliban, because I don’t know. Though, judging your error re: Saddam, I’d guess you don’t know, either.

    Congratulations on your ignorance.

  2. Ho Chi Minh Says:

    Pardon me for posting this again, but as it apllies here as well (and I’m so damned busy):
    While we’re waving the flag here on Memorial Day, any plans or gestures to commemorate the great American politician’s that helped bring Saddam and the Taliban to power, armed and funded them (financially and politically), then after so many years of repression sanctioned and bombed the poor people we’re pretending to help?
    Unless something is done to commemorate these individuals, our brave men and women in uniform will not have died for anything other than ..Macheavelli? ..Yuuuch!!

  3. Solomon2 Says:

    A Memorial Day dialogue on Iraq

    - and, for all our troops:
    Iraq & America the Beautiful.

  4. Alex Says:

    10:45,

    Nothing wrong with it per se, but it is a tad strange to be searching for anti-war conservatives on a website largely populated by pro-war liberals and former liberals.

    You might have better luck asking some anti-war liberals or some pro-war conservatives…

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for the link! Unfortunately, there’s no forum on that site.

    Does anybody remember seeing where anti-war conservatives are making a stand?

    10:45 am anonymous

  6. Anonymous Says:

    For conservatives against the war, I think you’ll probably find them cowering somewhere along with all the muslim moderates, held hostage by the extremists of their respective groups.

    You might try this place for a conservative anti-war viewpoint. A magazine founded by Pat Buchanan, God bless him:

    http://www.amconmag.com/aboutus.html

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Sigh.

    Can somebody please recommend a website where conservative Americans are critical of the current administration’s invasion of Iraq?

    Thank you.

    “10:45 am” anonymous

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Pancho said:

    George W. Bush – Texas Air National Guard – (did not see combat)

    Next time do your homework, ask any combat veteran about whether or not it makes a rat’s ass if one has been in combat to be considered “having served”. Ask me.

    You wear the uniform honorably, you served. Especially in the last 3 decades when so few Americans who enjoy all of freedoms benefits have never “served”.

    Point taken, Pancho. I resubmit an edited list:

    Dick Cheney – did not serve.

    John Ashcroft, Former US Attorney General – did not serve.

    Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State – did not serve.

    Paul Wolfowitz, Former Deputy Secretary of Defense, did not serve.

    Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy – Did not serve

    Richard Perle, Member, Defense Policy Board (was chairman until 2003), Consultant to the Secretary (current) – did not serve.

    George Tenet, Former CIA director – did not serve.

    Rep. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House – did not serve.

    Rep. Tom Delay, House Majority Leader – did not serve.

    Rep. Roy Blunt, House Majority Whip (MO) – did not serve.

    Dick Armey, Former House Majority Leader – did not serve.

    Sen. Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader (TN) – did not serve.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Whip, (KY) – did not serve.

    Sen. Rick Santorum, (PA), – did not serve.

    Trent Lott, Former Senate Majority Leader (MS) – did not serve.

    Jeb Bush, Florida Governor – did not serve.

    Karl Rove – avoided the draft, did not serve.

    Karen Hughes – did not serve.

    Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House – did not serve.

    Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Energy, did not serve.

    Bill Bennett, (author of Why We Fight), did not serve.

    Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice, did not serve.

    Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, did not serve.

    Jack Kemp: Did not serve. “Knee problem,” continued in NFL for 8 years

    Rep. Henry Hyde, (IL) did not serve.

    Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA) , US Senator (painted his opponent Max Cleland who lost both leg and an arm in Vietnam as soft on National Security) – did not serve.

    Marc Racicot, (chairman of Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign) – did not serve.

    P. J. O’Rourke (author of Give War a Chance), did not serve.

    Bill Kristol, editor The Weekly Standard, did not serve.

    Bill O’Reilly, Fox News celebrity, did not serve.

    Sean Hannity, Fox News celebrity, did not serve.

    Wolf Blitzer, CNN Newsman. Did not serve.

    David Horowitz, Right Wing media hit man. Did not serve.

    Mike Savage, Right Wing media hit man, did not serve.

    George Will, columnist, did not serve.

    Ralph Reed, did not serve.

    Jerry Falwell, preacher/politician, did not serve.

    Ken Starr, did not serve.

    Gary Bauer, politician/preacher, did not serve.

    Alan Keyes, did not serve.

    Roger Ailes, Fox News President, did not serve.

    David Brooks, columnist, – did not serve.

    Pat Buchanan, MSNBC commentator – did not serve.

    Ann Coulter, writer & commentator – did not serve.

    Lou Dobbs, CNN News anchor – did not serve.

    Paul Gigot, Wall Street Journal editor – did not serve.

    Brit Hume, Fox News anchor – did not serve.

    Rush Limbaugh, Radio talk show host – did not serve.

  9. Pancho Says:

    George W. Bush – Texas Air National Guard – (did not see combat)

    Next time do your homework, ask any combat veteran about whether or not it makes a rat’s ass if one has been in combat to be considered “having served”. Ask me.

    You wear the uniform honorably, you served. Especially in the last 3 decades when so few Americans who enjoy all of freedoms benefits have never “served”.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Don’t forget to put your name on the list, anonymous -LOL! Wait! Weren’t you a human shield? That would qualify you for combat duty I think.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Great speech, thanks for posting it.

    Now that we have remembered those Americans who served their country in combat, let’s take a minute to remember a few who didn’t:

    George W. Bush – Texas Air National Guard – (did not see combat).

    Dick Cheney – did not serve.

    John Ashcroft, Former US Attorney General – did not serve.

    Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense – served in the U.S. Navy (1954-57) as an aviator and flight instructor.

    Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State – did not serve.

    Paul Wolfowitz, Former Deputy Secretary of Defense, did not serve.

    Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy – Did not serve

    Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer

    Richard Perle, Member, Defense Policy Board (was chairman until 2003), Consultant to the Secretary (current) – did not serve.

    George Tenet, Former CIA director – did not serve.

    Rep. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House – did not serve.

    Rep. Tom Delay, House Majority Leader – did not serve.

    Rep. Roy Blunt, House Majority Whip (MO) – did not serve.

    Dick Armey, Former House Majority Leader – did not serve.

    Sen. Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader (TN) – did not serve.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Whip, (KY) – did not serve.

    Sen. Rick Santorum, (PA), – did not serve.

    Trent Lott, Former Senate Majority Leader (MS) – did not serve.

    Jeb Bush, Florida Governor – did not serve.

    Karl Rove – avoided the draft, did not serve.

    Karen Hughes – did not serve.

    Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House – did not serve.

    Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Energy, did not serve.

    Bill Bennett, (author of Why We Fight), did not serve.

    Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice, did not serve.

    Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice, did not serve.

    Jack Kemp: Did not serve. “Knee problem,” continued in NFL for 8 years

    Rep. Henry Hyde, (IL) did not serve.

    Sen. Saxby Chambliss (GA) , US Senator (painted his opponent Max Cleland who lost both leg and an arm in Vietnam as soft on National Security) – did not serve.

    Marc Racicot, (chairman of Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign) – did not serve.

    P. J. O’Rourke (author of Give War a Chance), did not serve.

    Bill Kristol, editor The Weekly Standard, did not serve.

    Bill O’Reilly, Fox News celebrity, did not serve.

    Sean Hannity, Fox News celebrity, did not serve.

    Wolf Blitzer, CNN Newsman. Did not serve.

    David Horowitz, Right Wing media hit man. Did not serve.

    Mike Savage, Right Wing media hit man, did not serve.

    George Will, columnist, did not serve.

    Ralph Reed, did not serve.

    Jerry Falwell, preacher/politician, did not serve.

    Ken Starr, did not serve.

    Gary Bauer, politician/preacher, did not serve.

    Alan Keyes, did not serve.

    Roger Ailes, Fox News President, did not serve.

    David Brooks, columnist, – did not serve.

    Pat Buchanan, MSNBC commentator – did not serve.

    Ann Coulter, writer & commentator – did not serve.

    Lou Dobbs, CNN News anchor – did not serve.

    Paul Gigot, Wall Street Journal editor – did not serve.

    Brit Hume, Fox News anchor – did not serve.

    Rush Limbaugh, Radio talk show host – did not serve.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous 11:05 am: I’m just looking for that conversation. It’s got to be happening somewhere.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous 10:45 am: I don’t look for such blogs. I correspond with my Senators and Representatives on a regular basis and don’t hesitate to give them ‘both barrels’ when the Administration needs it. I also write letters to newspapers that are critical when I feel it is needed. I think more gets accomplished in this manner than posting in a blog. I don’t look for Liberal blogs that are supportive of the war either, so hopefully that answers your question.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Can somebody please recommend a website where conservative Americans are critical of the current administration’s invasion of Iraq?

    Thank you.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    War and grease ( no parody of Tolstoy intended) – in Pakistan a KFC was torched after some fanatic blew up a mosque. There is at least some logic and predictability with our war dead, but how will the victims that died in that KFC joint be remembered?

  16. markus rose Says:

    Thanks, Neo-Neo Kon, for joining with the other “real Americans” in piling on me over at Roger’s blog. I might not have come over to your blog otherwise, which by the way I find to be full of interesting writing. Wouldn’t mind responding occasionally. Or would engaging in further dialoge with me “risk” giving me too much “undeserved attention”?

    MarKus Rose.

  17. Goesh Says:

    That is engineers, not engigneers, though they appear to have ‘gigs’ over there, making ‘music’ with tools rather than guitars, etc

  18. Goesh Says:

    As an aside, the Army Corps of Engigneers just completed their 1000th project in Iraq. It was a school renovation in Zahko, Iraq. The Engineers installed water tanks, piping, sewer lines, interior and exterior lighting, concrete floors and they even provided a school bell. No media was on hand to cover the event.

  19. Stephen M. St. Onge Says:

          “Many, if not most, of my friends live in a dreamworld where such things can be avoided, if only we listened to and revered the UN, Europe, and Jimmy Carter.  There is no problem that can’t be solved with love, understanding, and talk.  Perhaps I’m exaggerating, but not by a whole lot, I’m afraid.  Would that they were correct, and that human nature worked this way!”

          No, I think you’re exactly right.  That’s the way they think.  And evidence doesn’t move them.  “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

    THE SAUDS MUST BE DESTROYED!

  20. jakita Says:

    As a neo-neocon like you, I’m sorry to say that I’ve observed the following among all my moonbat friends and family: They believe that the goodies they enjoy are natural rights–just like the blue sky and the beautiful spring weather. They have lost the ability to imagine that they could be desperately poor, eating rats and pigeons for supper. They are decadent Eloi.

  21. Pancho Says:

    they see them as victims, not as people who freely chose to do this

    The same myth perpetrated by the same people since Vietnam. Their common myth was/is that the majority of the dead were draftees of minority origins. The facts are that the majority of those killed in Vietnam were enlistees and that the deaths fell in line with the general cultural percentages of the population. In fact, About 5 percent of those who died were Hispanic and 12.5 percent were black — making both minorities slightly under-represented in relation to their proportion of draft-age males in the national population.

    Read B.G. Burkett’s great book Stolen Valor to learn more.

    Wallace
    Vietnam ’71-72

  22. Goesh Says:

    Thanks for remembering us Vets. We veterans need to thank the civilians for all their support and hard work too. It is a two-way street. If freedom and our way of life has to be sustained by conflict at times, then the foundation for that is provided by all the people back home, in the rear, building, sustaining, maintaining, providing something to come home to and something to try to stay alive for. War is a nasty, vicous business and all notions of patriotism, glory, the flag and all political ideologies go to the side when the first bullet/rocket/mortar comes in. All that matters then is you and your unit staying alive and making it home. Thanks to you all for providing something to return to, for being the basis of what is fought for.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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