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Understanding Our Responsibility On Memorial Day

Definitely Not Decaf by Ira Pickett
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A soldier plants a flag at a grave in Arlington National Cemetery May 24, 2012 in Washington, DC.  American service members and others participated in the yearly event where small American flags are placed at over 220 thousand headstones in the cemetery reserved for members of the US military and those who served America.  (Photo credit : BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

A soldier plants a flag at a grave in Arlington National Cemetery May 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. American service members and others participated in the yearly event where small American flags are placed at over 220 thousand headstones in the cemetery reserved for members of the US military and those who served America. (Photo credit : BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

For some Americans,  Memorial Day is nothing more than the kick-off to the summer season and is marked by shopping, barbeques, trips to the beach, and the Indy 500.  To others, it is a somber time of reflection and remembrance for those who have served in the military defending our nation and the unique freedoms that were established by the Declaration Of Independence and further supported by the Constitution Of The United States Of America.

{Listen to the audio version of this column}

While Memorial Day is one single special day set aside to remember and honor those whose service should never be forgotten, perhaps the greater good of this day and weekend should be for all citizens to consider and take action on their own personal responsibility as participants in history’s greatest democratic experiment.  If we are to truly honor those who have and currently defend our freedoms, then we are obligated and should be internally motivated to understand and honor our basic freedoms as well.

The founders of our nation envisioned something remarkable and great that had never been established in the history of mankind.  Their vision has now become in reality a place of liberty, opportunity and undeniable inspiration for millions around the world.  Our founders ideas have worked in principle because they were based on understanding the imperfections of man, the pre-requisite to structure a limited government of laws, and the overwhelming consent of the people.  These points, as pointed out by the National Center For Constitutional Studies, are paramount in our understanding of the true distinctiveness of the American experiment:

  • It acknowledged that individual rights are derived from a Creator.
  • It was based on enduring principles compatible with “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”
  • It recognized human imperfection and that a tendency to abuse power is ever-present in the human heart.
  • It restrained those in power through a written Constitu­tion which carefully divided, balanced, and separated the powers of government and then intricately knitted them back together again through a system of checks and balances.
  • It left all powers with the people, except those which, by their consent, the people delegated to government ­and then made provision for their withdrawing that power, if it was abused.

One such way average ordinary citizens can pay tribute to our military hero’s this Memorial Day is to read and study the American Constitution, its origins, historical significance and modern implications.  While there is an endless supply of constitutional resources on the internet, Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan offers a fantastic course that is open to the general public titled “Constitution 101 – The Meaning And History Of The Constitution“.    There is NO cost to register in this course, and yet it will pay a lifetime of dividends toward being an active and participatory American citizen on the 364 other days throughout the year surrounding Memorial Day.

On this Memorial Day 2012, let us never forget the brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price with their earthly bodies on behalf of you and I, and our country, these great United States Of America.  To someone, they were grandparents, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, uncles, aunts, cousins, neighbors, and friends and will always be missed.  While there are those that we knew intimately well,  the remainder we will never meet until the day we are reunited in the presence of our Maker.  It will be at that moment that we are able to properly thank each one for their service and sacrifice.  Until that glorious day, however, we as citizens have an important and never-ending responsibility to never allow their sacrifice to be in vain, and to fight every day of our lives on their behalf for liberty and justice for all.

Want more Ira Pickett? Listen to the audio of this column.

Follow Ira Pickett at IraPickett.com and on twitter @irapickett

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