• We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. -Benjamin Franklin, Freedom Fighter

  • We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Fighter

  • Let us be cautious in making assertions and critical in examining them, but tolerant in permitting linguistic forms. -Rudolf Carnap, Philosopher

  • A clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity. -Alfred North Whitehead, Philosopher

  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poet

  • Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi, Mystic

  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. – Rene Descartes, Philosopher

  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. -Abraham Lincoln, President

  • Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einstein, Scientist

  • Be the change you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi, Freedom Fighter

Memorial Day, 2009

On the 19th of April in 1775, on the Village Green in Lexington, Massachusetts, John Brown, Samuel Hadley, Caleb Harrington, Jonathon Harrington, Robert Munroe, Isaac Muzzey, Asahel Porter and Jonas Parker became the first Americans to give their last full measure of devotion to the cause of liberty and to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Last week, David Schaefer, Jr, Esau De la Pena-Hernandez, Carlie Lee, III, and Roslyn Schulte died on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan in the defense of liberty and to the proposition that all men are created equal.

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gives us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

Rev. Dennis Edward O’Brien
US Marine Corps, World War II

Freedom is never free. More than 1,000,000 American men and women from Lexington to Afghanistan have given their last full measure of devotion so you and I could be free. We owe them a part of our lives, just as if they had thrown themselves on a grenade for us. For in a sense they did.

We have a responsibility, you and me, we, the people. We must earn their sacrifice.

As Lincoln reminded us at Gettysburg,

It is for us the living, to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.

We, the people, are tied together by a shared commitment to this great task, a commitment conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

We, the people, were conceived at Lexington and Concord, and born on the Fourth of July. We almost died in infancy at Valley Forge, but we survived, giving the world not just the gift of liberty but a new form of government.

In the fratricide of our Civil War came our greatest test, whether we, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We met that test as we have met every test that the Universe has thrown at us.

We extended the vote to women. We defeated fascism and communism. We ended segregation.

And we have seen the flower of liberty blossom throughout the world, wherever men and women yearn to be free.

But the task is far from over.

The news today brought word that North Korea exploded their second nuclear weapon. Intelligence estimates are that Iran is perhaps only 18 months away from building its own nuclear weapons. There are questions about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Our brave men and women in uniform continue in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, contrary to what a lot of arm-chair quarterbacks might think, there are no easy answers.

Here at home, as well, the list of challenges is long and answers are not easy; the economy, our educational system and health care to name just three.

It is much easier to pull down a government …
than to build up, at such a season as the present
John Adams, 1787

There were no easy answers in 1787 either when the thirteen states sent George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and 51 other delegates to Philadelphia to participate in a convention to revise the Articles of Confederation. There was general agreement that the Articles were not working. But there were grave cultural differences between the states— slavery for one — working to prevent compromise.

A clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity.
Alfred North Whitehead

The need to compromise, to find common ground, was strong in 1787. And when strong needs meet strong challenges, miracles occur. We—you and me—are the beneficiaries of the miracle that was Philadelphia in 1787.

The story is told of Benjamin Franklin, that he was walking one evening in Philadelphia after the Constitutional Convention when a woman asked him “Mr. Franklin. I understand you have given us a new Government. Pray tell what form it is.” Franklin replied “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

This is our challenge, this Memorial Day. This is the great task to which we, the people, must dedicate ourselves. To us falls the privilege of continuing to form that more perfect union, that shining city on the hill. To us falls the privilege of continuing to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare.

To us falls the opportunity to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

To us falls the opportunity to create the next American miracle.

Let us seize the day.

Let Freedom Ring.

Copyright © 2009. Stan Stahl. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to republish this essay in its entirety provided its source is identified as The Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org and this copyright is included.

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