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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Timothy Birdnow

A quick commentary for this Memorial Day.

What is it that distinguishes America from so many other places? All nations have had armed services of some kind or other, but America was and is still fundmentally different in character. See, America was settled by people who left their homes in a jaded and settled Europe to find opportunity in a wilderness, or at least in a land where the frontier butted up to the settled regions, and the job of security fell to the settlers themselves, since there were no soldiers present to defend them. These citizens banded together into groups of militia, and for the defense of their families and neighbors, not for profit, or glory, or conquest. They simply wanted to be safe, and free to pursue their lives.

Britain maintained a policy towards her colonies often refered to as salutary neglect; they left the colonies alone and the colonies provided the materials the Empire needed. It was a good system. But inevitably power politics between the British and French led to war, and in America that war was fought between the French and her allied Indian tribes on the one side and the British military with rather luke-warm assistance from the colonial militias on the other. (Interestingly enough, George Washington was allied with the Indians until they tired of his ineptitude as a commander. Only later did Washington blossom as a general. Also, Washington fired on a peace delegation he mistook for invading French, thus starting the French and Indian War.)  The militias weren't especially thrilled with British regulars traipsing about - and with the demands the British put on the farmers who had to protect their families and farms.

Later those same militia would form the backbone of the Revolution against Britain.

See, in America the soldier is a citizen first and foremost. He does not fight for glory, nor honor, no booty. He does not fight because he was conscripted, forced to become a warrior or hang. He does not fight for any reason except the love of his family and his home. The soldiery of other lands was far different; either conscripts or in it for the money. Mercenaries. Americans have traditionally been a military of free men who love their homes and families and friends.

That's not to say there aren't people who go into the army because they need a job, but the army molds them into the types of soldiers who place duty and honor to country first. It is a culture created by the citizen soldier, not the other way around. And while the President may be the Commander-in-Chief, he is not above the Constitution, which the soldiery swears an oath to uphold. A tyrant in the POTUS can be removed by his own military if the need should arise; that won't happen elsewhere.

And those soldiers have given far more than anyone can ask, laying down their lives at places like Saratoga, Bunker Hill, Vera Cruz, Gettysburg, Omaha Beach, Chosen, . They have stood against all enemies, and walked into the mouths of death willingly. They have fought not for king or power but for the security of our God-given rights to freedom.

So, on this Memorial Day let us remember the many who have given their very lives to keep us free. God bless them!

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