Veterans’ sacrifice should be remembered by everyone

Dr. Richard LaNear - Professor of Finance and Economics

Dr. Richard LaNear – Professor of Finance and Economics

Let us pause, celebrate and contemplate a day that goes unnoticed and unappreciated by too many of our citizens. A Veteran’s Day, which signifies a nation’s gratitude for the hardship and sacrifice which allow so many of us to breathe the fresh air of freedom and unprecedented prosperity.

As we experience the most opulent living standards in history, let us be ever mindful of the valiant sacrifices that were made in order that we remain a free people, enjoying the benefits of self-government and self-determination. For it was the unselfish determination and sacrifice of all our veterans, that allow us to nourish and flourish as a free people.

Let us never forget the courage and vision of our founding fathers as they fought to establish a “representative” republic where “power” was to be divided in a delicate but long lasting system of “check and balance.” How can we forget Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, Nathan Hale’s offer of giving two lives in service of his infant nation or our revolutionary soldiers who nearly froze at Valley Forge, in order that we could become a nation that could be self governed? We will forever be in their debt.

How can we forget that a tattered flag shone brightly in the “rocket’s red glare” at Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812, which saw the British try to reclaim a colony who had fought and won the right to be free. It was in this brief struggle that a future president by the name of Jackson rendered the British a humiliating blow in his masterful use of concealed sharpshooters, picking off the outdated British tactics of frontal assault, at the Battle of New Orleans.

In the most cataclysmic and schismatic event in our nation’s history, we must never forget the half million lives lost in the Civil War. Our noble flag was restored to one flag in our internecine struggle to keep our nation as one, not two, and abolish the only blot that our founders allowed in the constitution – the hideous institution of slavery. Who can forget and remain unappreciative of the efforts of the boys in “Blue and Gray” in such places as Bull Run, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Antietam? Our nation’s greatest president lost his life in sacrifice for the only goal that meant everything to him – that of preserving the Union. We offer our humble thanks to a cause that allowed us to continue our experiment in government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

As our young and fledgling nation matured into the 20th century, many an American life was sacrificed, as the blood stained poppies grew in Flanders field. But it was the ordeal known as WWI that allowed a stable balance of power to remain in a Europe that could have been subdued by a bellicose and insecure Germany. We remain indebted and in awe of our “dough boys” that fought in the last century of the second millennia. For it was in this war, that devastated and impoverished Europe, that a brash, brilliant and egotistical young officer would establish the name MacArthur forever in our memory and in this same war a nearsighted young artillery officer from Missouri, named Truman, would later become President of the United States and later confront MacArthur over the issue of civilian or military rule.

But it was the vindictive treatment of Germany after WWI and the WWI draining effort upon Russia that allowed the twin terrors of totalitarianism to rear their ugly heads in WWII. Again, it was the gallant efforts of our nation’s young soldiers who saved the day and prevented the demented and racist Hitler from a totalitarian domination of our ancestral Europe. I will be in external gratitude for the sacrifice of our Gl’s, such as my father in such places as Normandy, Iwo Jima, Bastogne, Anzio, Pearl Harbor and Midway. For it was in WWII that a farm boy from Kansas would later preside over the greatest armada ever assembled on D-Day, resulting in such fame and adoration that he was catapulted into the White House and served two successful terms known as the Eisenhower years.

Finally, we have wrestled with the remaining menace of totalitarianism left over from WWII, Soviet (godless) communism. From 1945 until 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, we maintained our resistance to this formidable threat to democracy, freedom and self-determination, via the Cold War. That this war was costly and resulted in bloodshed in such far away places as Korea and Vietnam goes without saying. Korea resulted in “half” a victory as we kept South Korea free and democratic, after much sacrifice and valor at such places as Pusan, Inchon, and the Yalu River. While Vietnam may have been a temporary defeat in our struggle against communism, due to the lack of political will and political ineptitude, we still prevailed in winning the Cold War and have established to all of the world that a representative republic will always triumph over totalitarianism.

Let us never forget the sacrifice, travail and hardship endured by our valiant, brave and gallant veterans. Their “blood, sweat, and tears” have allowed us to live a life unequaled in prosperity and freedom from want. The ephemeral concept of freedom is a fragile, transitory and under-appreciated state of affairs unique to only those people who stand ready to lay down their lives for it. That our brave and cherished veterans fought and died in the pursuit of freedom is testament to the magnanimity and ideals of our nation. As Churchill so eloquently stated in his thanks to the Royal Air Force (in its defeat of the German Luftwaffe), “never have so many been indebted to so few.” We shall not, cannot and must not ever forget that our very existence as a free and unfettered people is in so many ways due to our veteran’s sacrifice.