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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Day After Memorial Day

Sometimes one gains a better perspective of an event or celebration after it is over. Hopefully, that is what has occurred with me on the day after Memorial Day.

It seems to me that we are in too much of a rush to make the following point: Our troops defend our freedom. But how can one argue against that statement without, in someway, tarnishing the sacrifices they have made? This especially applies to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

And so we pile on accolade after accolade onto our troops. And it isn't as if they don't deserve our deep appreciation and respect. After all, our troops readily make sacrifices that many of us could not fathom let alone make ourselves. So here is the point. Whether our troops are defending our freedoms and whether those who died in action died for our freedoms really depends on why they were sent into action in the first place. Vietnam provides for considering that point. For we can easily observe how losing that conflict did not, in any way, affect our freedoms here. And when one considers the dangers and hardships our troops and their families must face, that they are not always sent to defend our freedoms is an outrage. So we might ask ourselves about what other conflicts were our troops ordered into action for other reasons than defending our freedoms.

But this automatic response, spoken as if in a trance, stating that our troops are always defending our freedoms shows what we might really be celebrating when we celebrate Memorial Day. Unconditionally declaring that our troops are always defending our freedoms indicates that we are celebrating those troops who immediately follow orders regardless. And it is that automatic and unqualified submission to authority which we could be celebrating on days like Memorial Day.

Even for the most devout Christian must recognize that there are  times not to follow the orders of those in authority. The Apostles who were ordered not to preach the Gospel declared that they must obey God rather than men provides one such example. And so when our troops are ordered into action for reasons other than defending our freedoms, it is time for our troops to question authority. It is time for them to learn so that they understand why they are being told to go to foreign places and fight certain groups or nations. It is time for them to understand why they are being told to kill those from other lands and to destroy the homes of people from other countries.

For without that understanding, what we have left to celebrate after our troops enter a fight is their unconditional willingness to follow orders. Such a willingness poses a great risk to the world when taken by those who serve in the most powerful military in the world.



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