Ultimate cost for perfect value
From what I could see, not one person there had actually bothered to think about it.
From what I remember, only the most perfunctory acknowledgement of the fact that it was Memorial Day was given by any of the speakers.
One might have been forgiven for thinking that it was just another really beautiful spring day involving a college graduation ceremony.
But for many Americans- far, far too many- Memorial Day isn't just one day out of many in the year, on which we acknowledge the terrible price that was paid by others, so that the rest of us can live free and in peace.
For thousands upon thousands of Americans, every day is Memorial Day.
Every day is the day that a husband, a father, a brother, a cousin, a son, a friend, a colleague, will not come home to his loved ones. The same applies to women who have died in service to this nation. Every day is the day that those left behind by the loss of those who fell in service to their nation and their people will mourn their passing.
And yet, for all of that grief and pain, the fact remains that Americans live in freedom, peace, and prosperity- or at least, some semblance of these things- because of the people whose ultimate sacrifice is acknowledged on this day.
Their memorials are spread out across this land, in the form of tens of thousands of bone-white crosses that dot the military cemeteries and burial grounds of the American nation. They fought and bled and died, so that we would not have to.
I visited Arlington National Cemetery once, about ten years ago, very briefly, during a trip to see some old friends. I was stunned to see just how many graves there are, dotting that hillside in Virginia- and was shocked into speechlessness when I learned that Arlington isn't even the largest burial ground for America's fallen, and that it is one out of nearly one hundred and fifty such sites nationwide.
Over the years since then, as I have come to appreciate and understand just what it means to be free in a nation that respects the rule of law and the fundamental God-given rights of Man, that simple fact has put into stark perspective the terrible price that has been paid for that freedom.
For people like me, guests in this country who have won the ultimate lottery ticket in life and have been permitted to live here in peace by a decent and generous people, it is an important lesson. We can never forget the price that others paid for our privileges.
Those of my fellow foreigners who do forget this, and who spit on America's name and culture and people, are unworthy to live here in this country, and should be expelled from this land forthwith.
It sounds trite to some ears to talk about how freedom can only be secured through terrible sacrifice. To some of our supposed "betters" across the Pond, these freedoms are taken for granted; it is just sort of assumed that freedom has always existed, and will always exist. They seem to think that they will always be able to live just as they please, and that all of the accumulated glories of the last two thousand years of European art and culture will just somehow maintain itself.
Such people have no clue what freedom really is.
Freedom is not the right to live as one pleases. Freedom is the substitution of self-discipline, with all of its ardours and difficulties, for discipline imposed by others. The joy and glory of freedom is in the dignity and self-respect that it gives a man.
A man who lives his life on his own terms is free because he, along with his people, has made the hard sacrifices needed to be truly free.
This God-given gift that we call freedom is a jewel beyond price, a treasure beyond value. It transforms us, elevates us, and allows us to become the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be- if we so choose.
To quote Thomas Paine, "it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated".
But it is precisely because freedom is so precious that it costs so very much. It is because this divine gift of freedom is the best thing in life, that its price is life itself.
One does not have to agree with or support the wars that this country fights to understand this simple fact. One does not have to agree with its frankly idiotic attempts at imperial expansion to acknowledge the simple decency and strength of its soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
I give particular thanks to the active-duty and retired personnel and veterans of the Armed Forces who read my work. It is my honour and privilege to know that you read what I write, and I thank you for all of your support and commentary.
I also ask that you hold me to the same standard that you held your fallen brothers in life: if I ever write anything that dishonours or disrespects those who serve in uniform, call me on it, and hold me accountable.
This Memorial Day- and every day of the year- I give thanks to those who died in the name of this country and its people, as a guest and proud friend of your people and your civilisation.
Their sacrifices helped build this country into the very apex of Western civilisation, and as the West slides ever faster into oblivion, it will be their strength, their resolve, their skills, their nobility, that will lay the foundations for a new and stronger nation to come, under the grace and the Law of the Almighty.
May God bless and keep the fallen, and may He watch over and comfort those left behind.