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Posted: May 30, 2017 4:32 p.m.

Belton: Honoring the brave

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This week we honor those who died, but especially to honor the fallen Brave.

Americans are raised in a world of plenty and think, “Everyone should be fed.” We look at our peaceful lives and think, “Everyone should be safe.” We thrive in the blessings of liberty and think, “Everyone should be free.”

Sadly - they’re not. Democracy is fragile – freedom is rare – despots and dictatorships are the tendency of man. The vast majority of people who have ever lived on this planet lived in want and tyranny. Worse, almost every country has been conquered at one time or another: England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, China, Russia, all of Africa, all of South America...the list goes on and on. Almost every nation knows the horrors of suffering under a foreign master. Most nations are cobbled to together by wars of conquest and greed.

Not America. We have never been conquered. We have never served under the yoke of tyranny. Even more unique is that we are the first nation to be conceived solely on an idea: that all men are created equal under the sight of Father God. That we are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights; that these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This idea is so powerful - Liberty is so sweet - that the fallen we honor laid down their lives.

Sadly, many of my friends in the military made that ultimate sacrifice: John Carter, Skipper Cutter, Mike Polkhamp, Alex Menendez, Logan Allen. Whenever I think of them I'm reminded of Abraham Lincoln's immortal words that he said in a wheat field in Pennsylvania...

"Now we are engaged in a Great Civil War,

testing whether this nation - or any nation

so conceived and so dedicated

can long endure"

 

This wasn't a confident statement of a victorious general. It was a heart-wrenching question of an embattled president of a weak, fledgling nation that was literally ripping itself apart.

Lincoln's question was this: can Liberty survive? Is America doomed to the same fate

as every other democracy throughout history, to be conquered and enslaved by tyrants and despots?

150 years later, America is no longer a weak fledgling nation, and that special idea - those inalienable rights - still survives...because of our veterans.

Remember,

 

"It’s the VETERAN, not the preacher,

who gives you freedom of religion.

It’s the VETERAN, not the reporter,

who gives you freedom of the press.

It’s the VETERAN, not the poet,

who gives you freedom of speech.

It’s the VETERAN, not the politician,

who gives you the right to vote."

 

I'm reminded of my fallen friends every time I hear our national anthem. Like Abraham Lincoln's famous speech, it's a story about veterans who had just fought a battle. The song ends in a brilliant crescendo, and like the Gettysburg Address, it ends in a question, not an answer.

"Oh, say, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave?"

Yes...yes it does.

Our flag still waves over the Land of the Free, because of the Sacrifices of the Brave.

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