Protectors of Our Rights; Those Who Pay the Ultimate Price
Byline: Travis Sample, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The idea of we the people and forming a perfect union - an experiment in self-government - was there from the beginning, well before James Madison framed it and put it into words. It is an idea that has come to be accepted as one of the unique aspects of the human experience.
Thomas Jefferson surely never could have imagined the far-reaching ramifications throughout the world when he wrote: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. But over the next 2 1/2 centuries, this idea would call brave Americans to face the challenge of the bitter winter at Valley Forge, experience the human carnage at Little Round Top, the killing field of the Argonne Forest, the bloody beaches at Normandy. Those Americans would encounter imminent death at Pork Chop Hill, the siege of Khe Sanh, the final assault on Baghdad or the danger of combating insurgency in Afghanistan.
So, just who are and were these Americans who have so bravely defended our way of life? Quite simply, they are Native Americans, West European-Americans, East European-Americans, Russian-Americans, Australian-Americans, African-Americans, Arab-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. Our families come from all over the world to settle in America, to escape political oppression or pursue not only economic opportunity, but religious freedom as well. We are Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist and members of many lesser-known religions. It is also our right to choose not to affiliate with any specific faith or religion or to be a nonbeliever.
Today is a day that traditionally marks the beginning of summer and that we set aside for remembrance of those who have died in our nation's service. Memorial Day was proclaimed on May 5, 1868. It is observed in every state of the Union on the last Monday in May. Including the Civil War deaths (numbering some 650,000), more than 1.1 million veterans, both women and men, have lost their lives in service to our great country.
In recent times, we also have included fallen police officers and firefighters and others who gave their lives in the performance of their duties to our free society. …