(May 29 official Washington Examiner editorial): We should not celebrate Memorial Day today without recognizing that those who perished in service to the United States died for a noble cause.

Despite the alternative reality pushed by the 1619 Project, critical race theory, and far too many “diversity” trainings, America’s fallen warriors did not serve the cause of intolerance or bigotry, of oppression or of avarice. Instead, they died for the sake of freedom, human rights, and the hopes for lasting and righteous peace.

The United States did not send doughboys to the trenches in 1917-18 for territorial gain. This nation did not send G.I.s and flyboys all around the globe in World War II for imperial riches. Korea and Vietnam were not U.S. satrapies ripe for plunder but lands where we drew lines against the manifestly evil Communist contagion. In Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. and allied forces were confronting murderous international terrorism, the U.S. strove mightily and perhaps precipitously to hand civil power and control back to regimes chosen through the consent of the governed.

In all cases, American interests, of course, were at stake, but those interests were rooted not in selfishness but in admirable principles we wished to universalize. At least since 1900, American forces have been greeted by popular acclaim either as protectors or as liberators, with welcome, even joy, rather than with fear. From the bells ringing in Italy in 1945 as allies forced the Nazis back up the peninsula, to the astonishing dances on top of the Berlin Wall, to the proudly upheld purple fingers from voters in Iraq, local populations have recognized that American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and merchant-mariners as well, have been on missions beneficial to human striving and human thriving.

On Veterans Day in November, we honor all who have served the American cause, the cause of freedom. Today, more specifically, we honor those who died while serving it. It is familiar but never trite to cite Lincoln’s tribute to their “last full measure of devotion,” a devotion that served to “consecrate” not just the places where they fell but the lives they lived.

The poet Archibald MacLeish wrote a poem during World War II saying, “The young dead soldiers do not speak… [yet] they have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.” It ends: “They say, We leave you our deaths: give them their meaning: give them an end to war and a true peace; give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.”

Today, the meaning we must give them is that of champions of freedom and faithful servants of a blessed and worthy nation. We remember them, we salute them, and we offer them our profoundest gratitude.

And let’s have an “Amen.”


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