by Gary Bauer
Campaign for Working Families
Of all the dangers facing our country, perhaps the greatest danger of all is the one that still doesn’t make many headlines — our collective national amnesia. Our history textbooks are sanitized to be politically correct and give our children little sense of the greatness of the nation they live in. The Founders are seldom mentioned unless it is part of a controversy about slavery or some other scandal.
I am often struck by how often decent American kids have nothing good to say about their own country. Their knowledge of the sacrifices made to establish and preserve their freedom is virtually non-existent. They are the recipients of the greatest freedom and opportunity that any society has ever produced, yet they are unaware of the price in flesh and blood that was paid for it.
At my father’s table, I learned love of country in a way that only a Marine could teach it. Dad taught me that patriotism wasn’t a theory — it was flesh and blood, real sacrifice and pain. You are your children’s most important teacher. They are listening.
This weekend, as we celebrate Memorial Day, tell your children about the sacrifices that had to be made to stop the march of fascism and the cancer of communism. Tell them about the beaches of Normandy and the Bataan Death March. Tell them about why there was a Berlin Wall and how free men brought it down.
Remind them about 9/11, what happened at the Pentagon and over the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Take just a minute in the next three days to teach them to love the things we love and honor the things we honor.
I’d like to leave you with a few excerpts from Ronald Reagan’s 1982 Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery. While the adversary Reagan spoke of was Soviet communism, the same applies to radical Islam today.
In America’s cities and towns today, flags will be placed on graves in cemeteries; public officials will speak of the sacrifice and the valor of those whose memory we honor. …
I have no illusions about what little I can add now to the silent testimony of those who gave their lives willingly for their country. …Yet, we must try to honor them — not for their sakes alone, but for our own. And if words cannot repay the debt we owe these men, surely with our actions we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and to final sacrifice.
Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves. …
It’s not just strength or courage that we need, but understanding and a measure of wisdom as well. We must understand enough about our world to see the value of our alliances. We must be wise enough about ourselves to listen to our allies, to work with them, to build and strengthen the bonds between us.