Exclusive for VSA by Steve Deace
Commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day with a speech in Normandy, France back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan honored the heroism displayed at that very spot so many years ago.
“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc,” he said. “These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.”
By the time you read this, our nation will have already celebrated Memorial Day in honor of our fallen heroes on the battlefield. It is a yearly reminder that there has never been freedom in this fallen world unless it has been purchased by the spilling of blood.
John writes of Jesus Christ, “Love knows no greater man than this – that a man would lay down his life for his friends.” Except when John wrote those words we were not Christ’s friends but his enemies. We were sinners, mockers, and scorners – all of us. Even most of Christ’s disciples, who were his closest friends, had deserted him at the Cross where he spilled his blood for us to be free from the frailties of our humanity.
On Memorial Day we honor those who have made the Christ-like sacrifice of laying down their lives for their “friends.” Whether they agreed with the mission or the principles being defended, they made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives nonetheless.
I recently attended a dinner in our nation’s capitol where Oliver North was the keynote speaker. He shared with us a story that perfectly proves the point.
North was following our soldiers in Iraq when the unit he was embedded with was ambushed by insurgency fire. They called for air support to help clear out the enemy combatants. The counterattack was successful, and as the American forces were advancing on the enemy they came upon an injured insurgent. One of the American soldiers picked the man up and carried him to safety. A Dutch journalist who was also embedded with the unit couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed.
“Why did you save that man when he was trying to kill us just a few minutes ago?” the Dutch journalist asked the American soldier incredulously.
“We’re Americans,” the soldier replied, “It’s what we do.”
Indeed we do, because in America we have traditionally believed we are all made in God’s image and all life is a gift from God. Therefore, it is not to be discarded cavalierly, but only in times of great tumult and self-defense when all other peaceful means of settling humanity’s differences have been exhausted.
Unfortunately, those traditions that made us Americans are in grave peril in this day and age. The light of liberty is but a flickering bulb. Ours is a culture that has evolved beyond the traditional left-of-center versus right-of-center political arguments of the past. We are now in the throes of an existential debate, where we are seriously pondering whether the First Amendment’s protections of speech and religion — which were givens for Americans of all ideological and religious persuasions in the past — should even be preserved.
Those fallen men and women we honor each Memorial Day deserve better.
They deserve a culture still worth dying for. They deserve to not have their sacrifices be in vain. And it wasn’t a flag but for a cause that they died for. Our flag is just a piece of cloth, not unlike every other flag waved in the field of battle by any other country. What sets it apart, what makes us misty-eyed when it flies at half-staff in honor of our fallen heroes, are the values that it stands for.
Values like our rights coming from God and not from mere men, which no government – either foreign or domestic – is permitted to take them away without a fight. Our fallen heroes didn’t die for a “fatherland” or a “homeland.” They died for “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Take that away, and there’s no reason to choke back the tears when those 21 guns salute a fallen hero we likely never knew, but who was willing to die for us nonetheless.
On the battlefields abroad, our soldiers have already proven their bravery on behalf of that cause. Now here at home it is time for the rest of us to prove ours.
It is time for the rest of us to be the “boys of Point du Hoc” when faced with a movement here at home that wants to take away what makes America exceptional and worth dying for. It is time for us to be “the champions that helped free (this) continent.” It is time to be “a generation of heroes who helped end (a cultural) war.”
Our fallen heroes deserve to have a culture that preserves the values they died for so that their children and grandchildren may reap their fruits. And those fortunate enough to make it home safely from war deserve to taste those fruits for themselves.
Our veterans fought to keep America strong, and now we must repay them by making America strong again.
(Steve Deace is a nationally-syndicated talk show host and also the author of the new book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)