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Memorial Day, 2004
Special to FreeRepublic ^ | 6 June, 2004 | John Armor (CongressmanBillybob)

Posted on 06/05/2004 12:10:57 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob

This week we formally dedicated the World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The center of the Memorial is a reflecting pool in front of a curved wall on which there are 4,050 golden stars, each of them representing one hundred Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion in that conflict.

This was the long-delayed memorial for the 16 million Americans who served in that conflict, only a quarter of whom are still alive. A substantial number of those were in attendance at the dedication. Of course, World War II was not the war in which the greatest number of Americans died. The Civil War was. But this particular Memorial Day was dedicated primarily to the WW II veterans.

What does that Memorial -- its silent evocation of men and women, places, sacrifices, and causes -- tell us that is relevant today? The question is critical, for we are at war again.

All of the Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and from all causes, not just deaths in combat, would make up just ten of the golden stars on the Memorial. When you visit it, and I hope all of you will, consider that the span of two arms can easily cover just ten of those stars.

What is our legacy from, and our debt to, our ancestors who have served? Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, set to music by Randall Thompson as “The Testament of Freedom.”

“We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honor, justice and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that heritage that we received from our gallant ancestors....”

That heritage, and that debt, is not owed just to those who died, beginning with Crispus Attucks, a black entrepreneur who was first to fall in the Boston Massacre. It is also owed to those who served through life, beginning with those who “mutually pledged our fortunes, our lives and our sacred honor” as they approved the Declaration of Independence in Congress on 2 July, 1776. (That is not a misprint.)

It extends to those who, in the long, hot summer of 1787 in Philadelphia, wrote the Constitution of the United States. And it extends to the tens of thousands of men and women who have continued that work by writing and approving all the amendments that have become part of that Constitution, as recently as 1992. All can properly be called Framers, because every amendment becomes part of the Constitution when ratified, as it declares.

Why mention the Constitution and its amendments? We are young as a nation. Several other nations measure their life spans not in centuries as we do, but in thousands of years. Still, the Constitution we wrote is the longest enduring one for any of the world’s 193 nations. We may be a young nation, but we are wise beyond our years in the art and science of creating, and maintaining, a free society and a free government.

That is a task that many people have taken up, many have failed, and many still yearn for in private – for in many of the world’s nations today, public profession of the Jeffersonian ideals of freedom can be a death sentence.

With prophetic foresight, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the opening paragraphs of the Federalist in 1787:

“It ... seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and chance, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may ... deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.”

(The Federalist was, of course, the series of 85 papers written by Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay to promote the ratification of the Constitution in the critical state of New York. It is also one of the greatest analyses of politics and government every written. On this Memorial Day, it also deserves to be reviewed and remembered.)

Eleven times in our history we have fought major wars. In three of those, the very existence of our nation was at stake. In all of them, both the United States and other nations were threatened. As row on row of marble monuments in foreign lands mutely attest, we Americans have been as faithful and generous in our support of the freedoms of others, as of our own. The War on Terrorism is no exception to that rule.

There was a twelfth war which was minor in terms of men and ships involved. Yet it was the one most like the current war. In 1802 the Congress reached the decision of “millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.” At that time all of the world’s major seafaring nations were paying “tribute,” or bribes to use a more candid word, to the Barbary Pirates so they would not capture their ships and hold them and their crews and passengers for ransom.

The nations of Europe had decided to continue paying the bribes. America alone decided to make war on the pirates and end the threat. So Congress authorized President Jefferson to take “all necessary military means” to pursue the pirates. It also authorized him to pursue them “across national boundaries.” This was the only other time in our history that we declared war without naming nation(s) as the target. This low-grade conflict lasted 11 years, until the second and final Treaty of Perpetual Peace and Amity was signed with the Bey of Algiers to end it.

What have been the casus belli, the reasons for our various wars? In each case we believed our citizens have been attacked before we went to war. (Recent archeological research has suggested that the USS Maine was sunk in Havana harbor not by a Spanish mine, but by a coal dust explosion in one of its bunkers.) It is also true that in WW II, the Germans did not attack us. However, they did declare war on us after we declared war on Japan. We then declared war on Germany.

What kind of sacrifices have we, as a nation, decided were necessary and appropriate in our various wars? Never have we known at the outset of any conflict the ultimate prices that we would pay in the lives of some citizens and the resources of all citizens. Never have we known at the beginning how long it would take to get to the end.

In most of our wars we have defined the end as victory over the dictatorships we faced. And only once victory had been achieved could we look backwards and know the price paid in blood and resources. Two of our wars, Korea and Vietnam, did not end in victory, but ended when we lost the will to continue.

That’s the danger that we face today. Though we have paid in this war a lower blood price than in any other major war we have ever fought, the drumbeat has already begun that “the cost is too high.” And if we quit this war, whether because we lose our will or because we hand the decision over to others who never had the will to begin with, that won’t end the murder of American citizens at home. Instead it will mean an increase in such murders.

We’ve heard the words and seen the faces of the murderers we fight in this war. They are fewer in numbers than any other foe we have ever confronted. However, they are the equal of the others in their hatred of all Americans, civilian or military. And with the modern means of murder, they are comparable in the risk they present.

If ten golden stars on that WW II Memorial wall really is “too great a price to pay,” then this Memorial Day it is not men and women who have died, it is our nation. Men die by the calendar, but nations die by their character.

The wisest man at the end of his days becomes childlike at the end. Has America become a very old man? Has our skin become paper thin and our pulse weak? Do we rise in the morning with family and friends all gone, just to draw shallow breath and wait for the end?

If that’s true, we’ll continue to fly the flag for a while. We’ll elect Presidents and Members of Congress for a few more decades. But America, like all great nations before it, will have died of old age, though the actual burial has been postponed. Is that the lesson of 2004, that there are no more “greatest generations” to be found here ever again?

I hope not. I pray not. I believe not.

Anyone who asks that question of those who bear the greatest burden, men and women in American uniform, will get a resounding “no” as the answer. Yet it is both the glory and the burden of the American military that the decisions to enter wars, and to end wars, were not placed in the hands of the military themselves. The failure, if it comes, will be in civilian hands.

As you consider the answer to the great question, is this contest worth the cost, reflect on the fate of America in December, 1776. Every battle we’d fought to that time in our Revolution had been a loss, even the Battle of Bunker Hill. In the Battle of Manhattan, General Washington and his entire army barely escaped the closing British trap by retreating to New Jersey. The Old Maryland Line guarded that retreat. Of their compliment of 400 men, 214 fell and were buried where Wall Street is today. (Their long-forgotten graves were discovered just a few years ago.)

In December, 1776, General Washington wrote to his brother that he “despaired” of the cause of the American Revolution. But just before Christmas, Washington ordered that Thomas Paine read to the tattered, discouraged troops The American Crisis which had just been published in Philadelphia. Days later, Washington led his troops across the Delaware in a snowstorm on Christmas Day. He attacked and defeated the Hessian mercenaries at Trenton, and the Americans won their first battle of that war.

On Memorial Day, 2004, it’s worthwhile to reread the opening words of that document which was presented to the American army in 1776:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserved the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too likely.”

- 30 -

About the Author: John Armor is a First Amendment lawyer and author who lives in the Blue Ridge. CongressmanBillybob@earthlink.net.

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TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: New Jersey; US: New York; US: North Carolina; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; alexanderhamilton; americanrevolution; barbarypirates; battleofmanhattan; battleoftrenton; civilwar; crispusattucks; declarationofwar; framers; generalwashington; germany; iraq; japan; korea; memorialday; northcarolina; oldmarylandline; oldnorthstate; theamericancrisis; thefederalist; thomasjefferson; thomaspaine; ussmaine; vietnam; worldwarii; wwiimemorial
This was ready two days early, so it's posted for FreeRepublic two days early.
1 posted on 06/05/2004 12:10:58 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob
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To: Constitution Day; Howlin; JohnHuang2; mhking; Bob J
F.Y.I.

John / Billybob

2 posted on 06/05/2004 12:12:56 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Thank you.


3 posted on 06/05/2004 12:53:58 AM PDT by stumpy
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To: All
There are two errors in the above article, both of which I caught before this is published electronically and in print. The first is a minor repetition in a sentence near the end.

But the other error is serious. It is the last word in the article, in the quotation from Thomas Paine. It should read: "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem to lightly." In the text above, that final word is miswritten as "likely." Apologies to Freepers and to the ghost of Tom Paine for that error.

John / Billybob

4 posted on 06/05/2004 12:58:07 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
These are the times that try men's souls.

Well said, Congessman.

5 posted on 06/05/2004 5:36:49 PM PDT by don-o (Stop Freeploading. Do the right thing and sign up for a monthly donation.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Billybob wrote:

And it [our Debt] extends to the tens of thousands of men and women who have continued that work by writing and approving all the amendments that have become part of that Constitution, as recently as 1992.
All can properly be called Framers, because every amendment becomes part of the Constitution when ratified, as it declares.

Confusing line Billybob, seeing that you just wrote on another thread that:

" -- The first words of the First Amendment are, "CONGRESS shall make no law ...." It is crystal clear that the Bill of Rights was written to restrain the power and reach of the federal government only. -- "

Which implies that our State or local governments have the ability to ignore the amendments "just ratified".
-- Could you please clarify this issue?

6 posted on 06/06/2004 11:12:34 AM PDT by tpaine ("The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." -- Solzhenitsyn)
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To: tpaine
Again you spread intellectual confusion like a literary squid in the constitutional seas. State legislators have a federally-assigned role in ratifying amendments, as they choose. Why you equate "ratifying amendments" with "ignoring the Constitution" is beyond me. After all, ratifying amendments is a power granted in plain terms in the Constitution.

Kindly explain what sources you have used to develop your absurd conclusions about the Constitution. Did you rely on one of the tin-foil sites or writers? Or is your confusion entirely home-grown? Either way, you have retired the crown as the Freeper with the most nonsensical ideas about the Constitution.

John / Billybob

7 posted on 06/06/2004 11:41:36 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
You wrote

" -- The first words of the First Amendment are, "CONGRESS shall make no law ...." It is crystal clear that the Bill of Rights was written to restrain the power and reach of the federal government only. -- "

Which implies that our State or local governments have the ability to ignore the amendments "just ratified".
-- Could you please clarify this issue?

Again you spread intellectual confusion like a literary squid in the constitutional seas.

Colorful, Bbob, but you are the one confused, not I.

State legislators have a federally-assigned role in ratifying amendments, as they choose. Why you equate "ratifying amendments" with "ignoring the Constitution" is beyond me.

Why? - Because it is your position that State/local governments can ignore our BOR's. -- You agree that CA can prohibit assault weapons, for one such instance, incredibly enough. -- Why is that?

Kindly explain what sources you have used to develop your conclusions about the Constitution.

My 'sources' are the plain words of our Constitution itself. You should study it without your "states rights" blinders on.

8 posted on 06/06/2004 12:06:52 PM PDT by tpaine ("The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." -- Solzhenitsyn)
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To: tpaine
It has never been my position that states may "ignore the Bill of Rights," or any other part of the Constitution. Neither should Congress, nor Presidents, nor judges of state or federal courts, nor especially Justices of the Supreme Court, ignore the Constitution.

My position is identical to that written by Goerge Washington in his "Fairwell Address to the American People." He wrote: "Until amended by the authentic act of the whole people, the Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all." In short, until the Constitution is legitimately amended by the people, using the process described in Article V, every word of it should be both applied and obeyed.

You may have a different attitude. But do not impute your conclusion to me.

I find it interesting that your constitutional "scholarship" consists of reading and misunderstanding that document on your own. You are, as are most such, a self-taught constitutional moron. Welcome to the club which has many, non-illustrious members.

John / Billybob

9 posted on 06/06/2004 12:23:18 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
It has never been my position that states may "ignore the Bill of Rights," or any other part of the Constitution.

Belied by your clear words just above:

" -- It is crystal clear that the Bill of Rights was written to restrain the power and reach of the federal government only. -- "

You claim that States are not "restrained" by our BOR's, - that CA can prohibit assault weapons for instance.
- You scoff at our RKBA's sir.

Neither should Congress, nor Presidents, nor judges of state or federal courts, nor especially Justices of the Supreme Court, ignore the Constitution.

Ah, but they are, and you as an officer of the court hold that a State is not bound by the 'restraints' of our first eight amendments to the Bill of Rights.

My position is identical to that written by Goerge Washington in his "Fairwell Address to the American People." He wrote: "Until amended by the authentic act of the whole people, the Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all." In short, until the Constitution is legitimately amended by the people, using the process described in Article V, every word of it should be both applied and obeyed.

Our BOR's were legitimately adopted, and must be honored as the Law of the Land under Art VI. Why you differ is an unexplained mystery.

You may have a different attitude. But do not impute your conclusion to me.

I 'impute' your position to your own words. B-bob.

I find it interesting that your constitutional "scholarship" consists of reading and misunderstanding that document on your own. You are, as are most such, a self-taught constitutional moron.

Which leaves you sir, as an overeducated moron, if you are indeed what you claim to be, a Yale lawyer.

Welcome to the club which has many, non-illustrious members.

-- John/Billybob, I would much rather be in my 'club', which honors our oaths to the Constitution/BOR's, than in yours, that scoffs at it.

10 posted on 06/06/2004 3:05:38 PM PDT by tpaine ("The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." -- Solzhenitsyn)
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To: Congressman Billybob
“millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.” At that

Uhm, that quote is from our first foreign war: the "Quasi war" with France under President Adams ( XYZ affair, etc.)

Good points though, as usual.

11 posted on 06/06/2004 3:23:53 PM PDT by mrsmith ("Oyez, oyez! All rise for the Honorable Chief Justice... Hillary Rodham Clinton ")
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To: tpaine
I do not "scoff at ... the Constitution," I respect it. I do scoff at you, because you cannot read and understand plain English. I will not fall into the trap of attempting a rational conversation with you in the future.

You are not capable of it.

You really should stick to subjects you have a slight clue about. Our conversations are ended, not just now, but permanently. (I do feel sorry for anyone who reads your twaddle and takes it seriously. But they're on their own now.)

John / Billybob

12 posted on 06/06/2004 4:32:55 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
You can't respond on the issues, so you've in effect conceded by making a personal attack. -- Thanks, john.
13 posted on 06/06/2004 4:41:12 PM PDT by tpaine ("Še line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." -- Solzhenitsyn)
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To: tpaine
Ah, my ignorant friend, you do not even understand the "issue" that you have invented. You claim that when the Constitution says "Congress" what it really means is "everybody."

When the Constitution means "states" it says "states." When it means something even more specific, it says "state legislatures." That was a critical issue in the Bush/Florida case.

You are taking the approach that the Constitution means whatever I say it means. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not have said it better. So, you see the "issue" really is your personal stupidity. Or are you so blind and foolish that you cannot see that?

John / Billybob

14 posted on 06/06/2004 4:59:40 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
You wrote;

" -- It is crystal clear that the Bill of Rights was written to restrain the power and reach of the federal government only. -- "
John Armor

You claim that States are not "restrained" by our BOR's, - that CA can prohibit assault weapons for instance.

- You scoff at our RKBA's sir.

---- you do not even understand the "issue" that you have invented.

You posted the issue, just as is quoted above. I 'invented' nothing.

You claim that when the Constitution says "Congress" what it really means is "everybody."

False claim. You're imagining I wrote that.

When the Constitution means "states" it says "states." When it means something even more specific, it says "state legislatures." That was a critical issue in the Bush/Florida case.

Yep, and the supremacy clause says that States are "bound thereby" to the "Law of the Land", which includes our BOR's.

You are taking the approach that the Constitution means whatever I say it means.

More false imagination on your part.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not have said it better. So, you see the "issue" really is your personal stupidity. Or are you so blind and foolish that you cannot see that?

John, you probably have an immunity from being suspended for personal remarks. - I don't. -- If I were to answer your insults in kind, I might even be permanently banned.
-- I appreciate that you can't rationally stick to the issue, but I would also appreciate it if you would stop with the "stupidity" remarks. For one thing, they display your own.

15 posted on 06/06/2004 5:33:45 PM PDT by tpaine ("Še line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." -- Solzhenitsyn)
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To: tpaine
I believe in honesty. On the subject of the Constitution, you ARE stupid. Not just confused, but world-class stupid.

Ask to have me banned, if you choose. I won't ask to have you banned. I gather from others that you are amusing. I take the Constitution too seriously to find you amusing. But others do.

Have a nive day.

J.

16 posted on 06/06/2004 5:45:12 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Billybob wrote:

I believe in honesty. " -- It is crystal clear that the Bill of Rights was written to restrain the power and reach of the federal government only. -- "

You claim that States are not "restrained" by our BOR's, - that CA can prohibit assault weapons for instance.

- You scoff at our RKBA's sir.
That is not honesty.

17 posted on 06/06/2004 8:11:11 PM PDT by tpaine ("Še line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." -- Solzhenitsyn)
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To: Congressman Billybob



check out

original political satire

18 posted on 06/07/2004 5:15:10 AM PDT by counterpunch (<-CLICK HERE for my CARTOONS)
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To: *Old_North_State; **North_Carolina; mykdsmom; 100%FEDUP; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; ~Vor~; ...

NC *Ping*

Please FRmail me, mykdsmom or TaxRelief if you want to be added to or removed from this North Carolina ping list.
19 posted on 06/07/2004 5:33:54 AM PDT by Constitution Day (Rest In Peace, President Reagan. I wish that I had had the honor to have met you.)
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To: counterpunch
Thank you. VERY nice graphic. Makes the point, short and sweet.

John / Billybob

20 posted on 06/07/2004 9:34:17 AM PDT by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com Visit. Join. Help. Please.)
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To: Congressman Billybob

Thank you, Sir, for posting this commentary. It's the first article I read on FR after my computer crashed and then recovered as well as install DSL.

I had recieved advice that I needed a new hard drive, but I didn't. The hard drive had to be re-formatted, and all the other CD-ROM programs re-installed, in addition to installing Verizon's DSL program.

Your post was a treat!


21 posted on 06/08/2004 2:35:38 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Men die by the calendar, but nations die by their character.

Awesome post sir.

22 posted on 06/08/2004 12:06:04 PM PDT by 4CJ (||) OUR sins put Him on that cross - HIS love for us kept Him there. (||)
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