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Memorial Day

May 31, 2010

“Here rests in Honored Glory An American Soldier Known but to God”

-Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington.

Every morning the sun rises over this nation and in our nation’s capital its first rays land on the top of the Washington Monument. Its first rays of light hit the east face of a small aluminum capstone bearing one inscription that reads “LAUS DEO” Latin for Glory to God. No one can see these words, this silent prayer to the Almighty very meaningfully placed at the highest point over what is the most powerful city in the most successful nation in the world.
Although the last hundred years have left it weather-beaten, the inscription is still visible still celebrating the founding of our country by the blessings of Almighty God and offering the thankful prayer of all mankind for a nation blessed with liberty for all.
I am immensely patriotic simply ask anyone who’s ever taken the time to get to know me. Patriotism to me is not sentimental nonsense. Nor something dreamed up by demagogues. Patriotism is a dedication to all that the American Republic stands for, the ideal United States, not always the one we see but that city on the hill in our minds eye. The Gipper once described it as “a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.” That’s as close as I can get to describe my vision of this Great Republic of Liberty.
If you step far enough back to look at the whole of human history, as I do often, you will begin to see a very plain truth that it is in darkness that most humans have lived their lives: poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Only for the past few centuries have we begun to claw our way out of the darkness and into the light of freedom and liberty. Our constitution reads “We the People” three small words with a big meaning, because that’s what it means to be an American. Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that established a new form of government. We the people tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. We the people are the masters. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which the people tell the government what it is allowed to do. We the people are free and it was God who made us so not our politicians.
What it takes to keep such a land free is sacrifice beyond measure. Our history is full of such moments: Nathan Hale’s last words: “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” Torpedo Squadron Eight making its suicidal attack. Thomas Jefferson saying, “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed form time to time with the blood of patriots–” A submarine skipper giving the order “Take her DOWN!” while he himself was trapped topside and the now famous words “Let’s roll”. I’ve been privileged to meet many of the hero’s who are still with us. They have been good enough to tell me the good, the bad and the ugly and to remind me of the costs of liberty, eternal watchfulness against all who threaten it, both foreign and domestic. Not all struggles for freedom have been on the battlefield.
Some say I’m jingoistic or blinded by nationalism. Well if I am consider this one fact: these United States are only into our third century and compared to the whole of mans long time on his island earth we’ve been here for just a blink of an eye. But during that blink we have gone from being a nation only part free and limited to a nation with freedom for all and reaching for the stars. Americans have explored space, reached the bottoms of the ocean, cured disease; feed the starving, freed billions. Every day I remember what my nation is, where it came from, what we have achieved together and of the marvels we have yet to achieve. I see the things that made us the inheritors of the most magnificent, noble, decent and free society ever to appear on this earth. This Western Civilization, this America, this freedoms lofty height, has earned the right to be hailed as greatest land in human history. It is we who defend the helpless and lift up those yearning to be free by being a beacon on the horizon it’s who we are, free. Yet it is not our pride the greats each sunrise it’s a simple prayer “Laus Deo” Glory to God not to us. Laus Deo.
Our journey towards liberty is not yet finished, this world cannot remain as Lincoln put it “half slave and half free” there are still those who seek totalitarian control over the minds and souls of men both within and without. I have hope however that freedom will transcend them as inevitably as the sun rises and history will remember them as the last bizarre gasp of tyrants who wanted to take from man his God given right to be free.
Today we honor those who lost their lives to buy freedom for all. This is the day that we dedicate to all those who did not live to see it and the day when we hope and pray for that time when the work will at last be finished and when all mankind is free, pause and remember.

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