Shall not have died in vain

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We live in rather odd times where the current political and social climate seems to shame any sense of patriotism and pride in this country.  I often try to remain silent, or if anything vague, on my political views; I only am expressive of them with my closest of friends with whom I can discuss such intelligently and respectfully.  My own past experience and current observations have thought me that it is all too easy for some to argue on position and emotionally rather than on interests and objectively.  That is one of the faulting qualities of being human, and it serves as both a weakness and a strength.  As such, I will keep this entry short for my own political views are that, my own.

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I will say, however, that I have found myself vexed lately with the instances of protesters trampling on the American flag.  On the one hand, I believe that freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important rights we Americans have, and it is something that we take for granted too often.  On the other hand, trampling on one’s nation’s flag is an utter symbolic betrayal to one’s own nation.  Yes, the United States is not perfect, but given the alternatives, I feel that we are all too spoiled; sometimes, we fail to recognise just how fortunate we are and how far worse things can be.  I am damn proud to be able to call myself an American and to be afforded so much opportunity and freedom.  Yes, that sounds like such a generic sentiment, but it is quite true to my feelings.

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It was therefore quite refreshing for me to see people and flags lined along the sides of State Street on Saturday for the Memorial Day parade.  There is much one can say about this holiday by anyone who contemplates how many American lives have been lost to protect our way of life.  I do not care if you believe that the recent conflicts have been for natural resources or for political distraction, all of that is irrelevant in the face of the fact that Americans have died in the service of this country.  They fought so that we civilians need not.  They died so that we can live.  I cannot help but to think of the words of a man from a century and a half ago dealing with the struggles of a nation divided:

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

—Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, in part, 19 November 1863