• 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, 2017

To the Congress and President, on the occasion of Memorial Day 2017

that these dead shall not have died in vain.  Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.

At the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan, as Captain John Miller [Tom Hanks] lies dying from the Nazi bullet he took saving Ryan, Miller looks Ryan in the eye and says to him “Earn this.”

Which brings us to Memorial Day, 2017 with America in deep disarray, division, and disunion.

Are we the people earning Miller’s sacrifice? And the sacrifice of the other 1,250,000 Americans who have died in our wars? And the Native Americans whose lands we stole? And the enslaved on whose backs America owes so much of our early wealth? Is America’s leadership in the world at an end?

Where does America go from here that these dead shall not have died in vain? How are we to earn their sacrifice?

Lincoln defined us, we the people, at Gettysburg: we were conceived in liberty and are dedicated to the proposition that we are all created equal.

Is not this, then, the most important thing any American can do so that these dead shall not have died in vain … to lead our lives dedicated to the proposition that we are all created equal?

And, if so, is it not our duty to require of you, the Congress and the President — particularly at this epochal time in America’s history — that you, our elected officials, do the same?

Is it not your solemn responsibility to dedicate your very office to the proposition that we are all created equal? Does not your oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution require that you do no less?

Take but one example. Pretty much everyone agrees that America needs a health-care system that works and that ours is coming off the rails. And with all due respect, let me suggest that the men and women whose deaths we remember today didn’t die so you could play politics with our health care system. Don’t their deaths obligate you to sit down like grown-ups — with everyone at the table treated equally — and apply the same intelligence that got you to Congress towards getting us the best-health care system in the world? Isn’t this what they died for? Isn’t meeting our health care challenge required if we are to earn their deaths?

Does not the spirit of the men and women who died securing for us the blessings of liberty require that you meet all the rest of America’s challenges in this same way; dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal? And don’t we now — in this time of crisis, perhaps more than ever before in America’s history — need you to do this?

If these deaths are not to have been in vain, we need to successfully navigate the challenges of globalization, technology, climate change, ISIS, immigration, powerful demographic forces, etc. — all while striving towards that more perfect union. Is this not your responsibility? Doesn’t their memory require you to do this?

And perhaps, most important of all, doesn’t their memory require that you get the alt-right and those like them out of politics. For how can we be dedicated to the proposition that we are all created equal if we give political attention to those who are avowedly not dedicated to this most basic of American propositions? And are we not required to do the same with those on the left who believe it acceptable to deny the free speech rights of their opponents? How can any of us earn the deaths of those who died if we don’t speak out against attempts to say that some of us have more rights than others?

We need you, our Representatives, our Senators, and you, Mr. President, to work together in — what Judge Learned Hand called in the middle of World War II — the Spirit of Liberty: the spirit … which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit … which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit … which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit [that] remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded.

This is our country and too many of us are suffering. We are in crisis. And we the people need you, our Representatives, our Senators, and you, Mr. President, to put the public interest ahead of the interest of party and faction. The deaths of those we remember today require you to do this.

We the people need you, our Representatives, our Senators, and you, Mr. President, to rededicate yourselves and America to the proposition that we are all created equal.

We the people need you to highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Let’s do those on whose shoulders we stand proud. And let’s build a new foundation for the American dream so that future generations can look back at us with gratitude that — when it was our turn — we stood tall on the side of liberty and justice for all.

Let Freedom Ring.

This essay has been published on my blog The Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org. I invite you to visit The Agnostic Patriot to read my other essays on freedom.

Copyright © 2017. Stan Stahl, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to republish this essay provided the essay is reproduced unedited and in its entirety, its source is identified as The Agnostic Patriot at www.agnosticpatriot.org and this copyright NOTICE is included.

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