Recently I heard a friend of mine on the radio talking about how flag-burners aren’t real Americans, like he is. He says he is more of an American for being willing to protect their right to burn the flag than they are for exercising the freedoms Americans hold.
Another friend sent me an essay about Memorial day that contained these lines:
The anti-war zealots who want America out of Iraq and Afghanistan and want to decimate our military call themselves “peacemakers” but most are simply little people who do not understand that their right to protest comes from the sacrifice of these heroes. Without our Revolution, we would not have a nation. Without our victory in World Wars I and II, we would be speaking German or Japanese and would be subservient to these countries.
“Little people who do not understand”? And then the very next sentence talks about the revolution which birthed the United States. How can you have a revolution if people do not speak passionately and act passionately? Were our founding fathers not zealots? And is there anyone who really doesn’t understand that our freedoms come at a high price?
I don’t understand these feelings. I mean, I understand wishing people I disagree with would shut up and go away. Anyone who knows me knows I “get” that. But to paint people with such a broad brush — most anti war zealots want to decimate the military and don’t understand that people die to preserve our rights — is just wrong.
If we are willing to protect someone’s right to free speech but then feel they are less of an American because they exercise that right…something doesn’t feel right about this. If the patriots who founded this country had acted as “true Englishmen” wanted them to act, there would not be a United States today. Were they wrong to act as they did?
But here’s the thing…Memorial Day, which started as Decoration Day, is a day of reconciliation, originally intended to honor those from both sides of the Civil War who gave their lives to serve their highest ideals. So let’s not spoil it with a bunch of rhetoric that is not only divisive but can even be destructive.
Tomorrow, Memorial Day, at 3:00 pm, many people will stop what they are doing for a National Moment of Remembrance. In their own way, they will take this moment to remember and respect those who have died to preserve our freedoms — all of our freedoms; not just the ones they personally like. I’ll spend that moment pondering the delicate balance between freedom and respect — it’s a balance that touches every area of every life.