Tomorrow, while enjoying a holiday in our busy lives, we should remember those who served — and in many cases who paid with their very lives — to give us this great nation that is our heritage. We should rededicate ourselves to keeping America true to its heritage for our posterity. So pause with me and remember . . . Never, let us forget!
Our November 11th annual celebration stems from the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning — the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. That Armistice Day was intended to mark the end of the war that President Woodrow Wilson vainly hoped would be the “war to end all wars.” Hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire, until the official end came with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.
The German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires ceased to exist; national borders were redrawn — with some independent nations restored or created and Germany’s colonies parceled out among the winners.
The Big Four (Britain, France, the United States and Italy) imposed their terms in a series of treaties. The League of Nations, formed with the aim of preventing any repetition of such a conflict, failed spectacularly with weakened states, economic depression, renewed European nationalism, and the rise of German Nazism.
Inattention of the Western Powers to these festering conditions and others in the Pacific led to World War II, a war that Churchill called “unnecessary” in the Preface to his Gathering Storm memoir of the pre-war years when Britain pursued a policy of appeasement.
Some say we are reliving similar conditions today in another “gathering storm” of global proportions … Appeasement is not a winning strategy — “Peace through Strength is.” We should have relearned that lesson in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Lest we forget. And now???
Though World War I was over and done before my time, I recall singing songs from that era in grade school as a farm boy during the years of World War II. For example: “The Yanks are coming . . . So prepare, say a prayer; Send the word to beware; We’ll be over, we’re coming over; And we won’t come back until it’s over, over there!” We were doing it again!
I went every Monday evening to our County Seat with my Dad (too old for the draft) to drill with the Home Guard, because we were concerned about an invasion. There were Civil Defense preparations, Victory Gardens — even in big cities — and everyone learned to fire a weapon if needed.
I recall synthetic rubber, and carrying everywhere we went equipment to patch inner tubes, a jack and a hand pump — to deal with a blowout on any trip from home. Everything was rationed, and my mother sewed shirts from flour sacks for me to wear to school. We listened to the radio for reports on the war and followed the events on crumpled maps.
We began every school day with Bible reading, a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag — long before my high school years and the latter days of Korean War when President Eisenhower signed into law that “Under God” be inserted into its terms. We didn’t need that reminder of our founding — because our grade school teachers already had instilled that history in us. But it was welcomed. During Chapel once a week, we sang the Star Spangled Banner and stood proudly as Americans.
I remember the Vets who returned — cousins in the Army, Navy and Air Force. I spit-shined one cousin’s Navy issue shoes to wear with my dress uniform in my Clemson cadet years and in my wedding — and if they bury me with my shoes on, I want to wear them in my grave. I remember a Marine Vet from our neighborhood who fought on Iwo Jima — and for the rest of his life had nightmares from the experience. None of these folks talked much about their experiences. They well deserved to be called the Greatest Generation.
Lest we forget. Our entire society owes them, big time.
Perhaps they gave us too much and life has been too easy for those of us who benefited from their efforts.
Those years were prior to the advent of the “political correctness” that dominates our lives today — even for our maturing (in age) young people, many of whom seem oblivious of their heritage. Those who can remember should pass that heritage to our young, for the benefit of those who will follow them.
They are not getting it from today’s education system — and many of our elected leaders and even Supreme Court Justices seem to forget their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution.
I think we lost our way in the late 1960s with the Vietnam era and riots on college campuses. The disciples of radicals of that era appear to be in charge of our destiny today.
My wife and I worked with young people in our church during those years and tried to make a difference — and did with some. But alas our efforts, and the efforts of many others, regrettably were too little, too late.
The ebb and flow of subsequent events included the malaise of the late 1970s, a great reawakening during the Reagan Revolution and the end of the Cold War which had occupied the focus of so much of my adult life.
Some thought these welcome events heralded the “End of History” with a triumph for democracy as Francis Fukuyama wrote in 1992. So far, that has not worked out well at all. During the past 23 or so years, for example, efforts to “democratize” states of the Middle East have produced little, as jihadi elements have dominated limited “April Spring” efforts and are a growing threat around the world, including within our beloved America.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Vets have paid dearly for our thus far mostly failed attempts in that pursuit. Tomorrow, we also honor their efforts, while weighing the wisdom of those who have sent them on their task.
Still, Fukuyama stands by his original thesis as reflected in his June 6, 2014 reflections in his Wall Street Journal article, “At the ‘End of History’ Still Stands Democracy” — though his views have been modified by some hard lessons of the intervening years. I wish I were as optimistic, but the future seems quite daunting to me, and our leaders seem to have been woefully inept. Will they do better in the future?
As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So we should remember what made our nation great and not let it go quietly into the night of history.
In titling my thoughts this week: “Lest we forget” I thought of a favorite poem by Rudyard Kipling from my High School years, when it was still quite appropriate in that setting to consider a higher calling from the Creator from whom we derive our most treasured rights, according to the Declaration of Independence. I did a little googling to quote it correctly and consider its origin, with which I will conclude.
Kipling’s Recessional, composed for the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, is a prayer that describes two fates that befall even the most powerful people, armies and nations, and that threatened the British Empire at the time: passing out of existence, and lapsing from Christian faith into profanity. (Sound familiar?) The prayer entreats God to spare “us” (the British Empire) from these fates “lest we forget” the sacrifice of Christ. The phrase later passed into common usage after World War I across the British Commonwealth especially, becoming linked with Remembrance Day — or Poppy Day — observations (also on November 11th); it came to be a plea not to forget past sacrifices, and was often found as the only wording on war memorials, or used as an epitaph.
We need to return to the ways and faith of our fathers — for the good of our nation and those who follow us. We must remember their sacrifices that gave us this hope to be “the shining city on a hill” that Ronald Reagan saw and sought. And we must keep that faith for the sake of those who come after us. That is how we should honor those veterans whose sacrifice we remember tomorrow.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We will continue to inform our readers of the looming threats we confront — and where appropriate urge them to engage in countering that threat. Our leaders are failing at their sworn duty “to provide for the common defense”
We will press for building the most cost-effective ballistic missile defenses possible and working with South Carolina folks to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to the existential threats to the electric power grid.
We are especially focused on the nuclear power reactors that produce 60 percent of SC electricity — and more generally 20-percent of the nation’s electricity.
If it can be assured that they “operate through” a major blackout of the electric power grid, they can play a very important role for resurrecting it over an extended time and supporting the general public’s survival in the meantime. Click here to see the recent Washington Examiner article to infer the urgent importance of assuring this capability for our nuclear power reactors.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them. I hope you will help us with our urgently needed efforts, which I will be discussing in future messages.
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