American soldiers killed in action certainly deserve our gratitude and honor. But not for the usually recited reason.
Memorial Day once again featured the mantra that soldiers died defending our freedom and individual rights. One popular song even includes the phrase, “At least I know I’m free, and I won't forget the ones who died who gave that right to me.” Yet today the news is full of horror stories of business owners being fined and shut down, their livelihoods stripped away, price controls imposed, even their customers arrested, for defying orders by political leaders wielding “emergency” powers. Where’s the military?
In the last 100 years, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers died on the battlefield. In that same 100 years, our general freedom, especially economic freedom, has steadily eroded due to the growth of the regulatory welfare state. While our First Amendment freedoms have fared somewhat better, they today face withering attacks on multiple fronts, as are the governmental checks and balances put in place by the Founders to protect us from tyranny due to concentration of government power. Where was the military?
The fact is, contrary to Memorial Day propaganda, the military’s job is to protect our borders, not our freedom. The fight to establish, maintain, and defend freedom is a philosophical, not a military, fight. It is fought with words and ideas, not guns and tanks. It is fought within, not outside, our borders. It is fought among the civilian, not military, population. The fight for freedom requires, not military combat, but mind-to-mind combat. The Founding generation’s defeat of the British Army, heroic as that was, did not secure our rights. Our rights were secured afterward, on the battlefield of political philosophy and constitutional law. That battlefield—the one of ideas, not arms—is where our Founders took the first and most crucial steps toward fulfilling the promise of the Declaration of Independence, the creation of a government “to secure these rights, drawing their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The enemies of freedom exist not only in foreign dictatorships, but among us right here in America. The military has done a fine job of protecting us from foreign enemies. We, the people of the United States, have done poorly in our job of protecting our rights. By the design of some, the neglect and complacence of others, and ignorance of many, we have granted our government more and more power to restrict our individual rights. We must abandon our false sense of security that we can rely on the military to preserve and restore our liberty. The U.S. military has given us a virtually impenetrable forcefield to live behind. It is entirely up to we, as individual citizens, to secure and restore our freedom and make our rights inalienable.
On This Veterans Day, Remember the Productive Americans Who Support the Greatest Military in History
The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty – Timothy Sandefur
A New Textbook of Americanism — edited by Jonathan Hoenig