Of War and Remembrance
Ordinarily, America's Memorial Day is the beginning of our summer holidays. We often observe the day by having local Scout troops place small American flags on the graves of fallen warriors. Many of us make sure to tell our children about service members' sacrifice and use this time to explain to them the price of liberty. Freedom is not free, we tell them. And so, while we are grateful for a holiday, for extra time for family cookouts, church picnics, sports and games, for auto races, or sailboat regattas, we also recognize a somber undertone to the day.
Today, our observance of Memorial Day must be tempered with a real disquiet. For the first time in 238 years of American arms, that shield of the republic, our all-volunteer military, is itself a target.
In the last few months, militant atheizers have gained privileged access to our Defense Department. They are getting a sympathetic hearing from many there. These atheizers boast that they have made progress toward their goal of completely suppressing open expression of Christian faith in our armed forces. They want this and much more. They demand that anyone in uniform who shares his faith, who dares to proselytize, be court-martialed for treason and sedition.
This anti-American demand is deeply offensive to tens of thousands of our soldiers serving today. To the great World War II generation, it would have seemed we had fallen under a hostile occupation. If you visit the American Cemetery in Normandy, you will see why this is so. There, you can see row upon row of white crosses. They stand like sentinels, on guard. It's been called "the silent bivouac of the dead." Especially poignant are the white Stars of David among those crosses.
Those Jewish soldiers of World War II were doubly motivated to fight the evils of Nazism. They fought bravely for their country and they fought for their fellow Jews who were in danger of extermination. Seeing their headstones among the crosses is a powerful experience. It's as if our Christian brethren are saying to the world: You'll have to come through us to get at them.
Consider the contrast: For years, a Jew-hating army psychiatrist was allowed to sound off about jihad. Maj. Nidal Hasan openly advocated Islamist violence against his fellow Americans, against those serving in the military with him. Those officers who protested against this were ordered to be silent. They were the ones whose careers were at risk.
If Nidal Hasan had not acted out his murderous theology and taken the lives of fourteen innocent human beings (including one unborn child) at Fort Hood, he would presumably have been permitted to continue spewing his hateful ideology yet today. And he would not have been charged with proselytizing. His actions were sedition. They were treason. But Hasan's brazen violations of his Oath of Office were condoned, excused, and even protected.
And because someone opened the gates to real sedition and treason, mass murder stole into Fort Hood.
The atheizers were not there to silence Nidal Hasan. We never hear them protesting about his rants. Political correctness doesn't work that way. But the atheizers are trying to suppress the faith of Christians.
That's why we initiated a petition to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and started the American Hero Defense Fund. Our friend and colleague, retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, is spearheading this Family Research Council drive to defend the religious freedom of those in our armed forces who have so ably defended our freedom.
I hope you and your family will truly remember on this Memorial Day. Please remember the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform over the centuries. Let's remember those patriot graves. And pass along to the next generation the accounts of their selfless service and valor.
But this year, please do one thing more: Won't you join our Christian defense ministry? Give us your prayers, your voice, your support. Write letters to local newspapers. Call in to local talk shows. Make sure your elected representatives know where you stand. Encourage your church's leader to speak, to engage the culture. Let's stand with our troops for God and country.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.