Our nation was conceived by idealistic and courageous political leaders, but it was preserved by the immense and immeasurable sacrifice of millions of soldiers who fought and died to transform the democratic principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence into a country we proudly call the United States of America.
Foremost among these principles is this profound and poetic proposition: “We hold these truths to be self‑evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is what our flag stands for, and this is what more than 600,000 men and women have died for.
Unfortunately, democracy is neither neat nor easy. Thus, every time our leaders have sent American warriors to fight under our flag, there has been controversy about their policies. It’s every American’s right, and possibly patriotic duty, to stand up and be counted on such momentous issues. The hard thing is to do so with some humility, remembering that even the long lens of history doesn’t always reveal one clear truth about the politics of war.
This Memorial Day occurs in the midst of continual news of fresh wounds and fatalities suffered by men and women who put their lives at risk doing their duty to defend our safety and ideals. There should be no controversy about our duty to be unified in devotion to and support of these loyal compatriots, and we should express in every way we can unconditional and unreserved gratitude and reverence for their noble service.
About the author: Michael Josephson is one of the nation’s most sought-after and quoted ethicists. Founder and president of Josephson Institute and its CHARACTER COUNTS! project, he has conducted programs for more than 100,000 leaders in government, business, education, sports, law enforcement, journalism, law, and the military. Mr. Josephson is also an award-winning radio commentator.