What strength of resolve is it that impels a people to raise a value—a mere abstract concept—above life? Who can fathom the force of character necessary for ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom? Where can be found, deep in the gut, that ego-annihilating principle giving man the expedience and depth of heart to destroy the body in the name of ethereal liberty?
What a rare and new thing is liberty in world history—the timeline of civilization is a tapestry of human enslavement. Though we too often are complacent with its bounty, we must note that freedom is nascent, and perhaps even its birth pangs are not yet through. Most of the world is mired in socialist regime…even communism still exists!
"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."
A feature of the American experiment of liberty is the experiment of free markets. Freedom = Free Markets. Free trade and capitalism are a participation in the will of emancipation and freedom. The ability to direct one's own course through free commerce is a daily offering, a celebration rite, to those who sacrificed on our behalf. Capitalism cannot exist without freedom. At best, other regions of the world adhere to parasitic models of mercantilism where the state plays a role in determining another's fate.
"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…"
It is a paradox, indeed, to sacrifice oneself in the name of a society championing the primacy of individual man. How can we honor it? Ambivalence and apathy are today's enemy. At every turn we are encouraged to give up our freedoms by small degrees with more laws, more rules. Take a step back and witness the sheer size and breadth of the US Federal Government. Many, if not most, laws are in direct violation of the basic liberties we hold to be natural rights. This is not what others have sacrificed for: to parcel away freedom in small doses in the name of sanctuary of an overbearing state. Yet, our transgressions are small by comparison to Europe's lumbering bureaucracies. And we must recall the tyranny of dictatorship, socialism, and communism that rules most developing nations—where the vast majority of the earth's population resides.
This Memorial Day, honor the sacrifices of those past by exercising the deepest drives of your will, and place your mark upon the world in both work and relationships with the liberty you are granted. That is perhaps the greatest fulfillment of freedom we can know.
For more on the history and observance of Memorial Day, visit: http://www.usmemorialday.org/
Have a great holiday weekend.
Quotes taken from President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.