Serving Who Served Us
Every night of every day, Americans sleep in peace because of men and women they've never met -- and some they'll never have the chance to. Even today, with the "war on terror" winding down in the news, there are still flag-draped caskets returning to Dover Air Force Base. There are still fresh graves watered by families' tears at Arlington and across America. And while other veterans suffer from wounds no eye can see, millions of others stand ready, willing to give "the last full measure of devotion" to let strangers pursue the freedom and happiness so many served to give us.
Only a tiny fraction of our population, less one percent, shoulders that burden of fear and sacrifice. And they shoulder it for us. These are good and decent young men and women, as Marine General John Kelly said in 2010, who have performed remarkable acts of heroism and selflessness to a cause they have decided is bigger and more important than themselves. "Only a few months ago they were delivering your paper, stocking shelves in the local grocery store, worshipping in church on Sunday, or playing hockey on the local ice. Like my own two sons who are Marines and have fought in Iraq, and today in Sangin, Afghanistan, they are also the same kids that drove their cars too fast for your liking, and played the god-awful music of their generation too loud. But have no doubt, they are the finest of their generation." Like many before them, they do their duty into eternity.
Ten years into the longest conflict in American history, three-quarters of our veterans have now taken up arms in times of conflict. But no matter where they serve, the members of our military are all becoming veterans of another war -- on faith. While some deploy to the most dangerous regions, others are fighting battles at their desks, on bases, and even in training sessions just for the right to enjoy the same freedoms they have devoted their lives to defending. For the last five years, the Left, led by President Obama, has forced the military to walk point in the advancement of the Left's radical social policy. Now that the moral foundation is weak, the administration is taking aim at the spiritual.
From dismantling chapel crosses in Northern Afghanistan to banning Bibles for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed, it's clear this administration is on a search and destroy mission when it comes to religious freedom. FRC, together with 15 other members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition, wants to remind Americans that the best way to honor our troops is to fight for them. Today, the Coalition launched a new ad in the Military Times to do just that by offering legal aid to anyone who's been persecuted for their faith. "You gave up many individual rights to be in the military," the text says, "Religious freedom wasn't one of them." We want U.S. service members to know that our organizations stand ready to protect them -- just as they've so honorably protected us. Included in the ad is a hotline they can call to share instances of religious liberty violations they've witnessed or experienced.
As a veteran's son wrote in a moving piece about his father, no Army, no Air Force, no Navy -- no matter how well-trained or equipped -- is strong enough to save a country without God. "I believe that the most essential element of our defense of freedom," President Ronald Reagan said, "is our insistence on speaking out for the cause of religious liberty." And that is exactly what FRC is doing. For more on this new effort, click over to MilitaryFreedom.org. While you're there, take time to listen to the victims' stories and read about others in our updated "Clear and Present Danger" report. Above all, pray. And not just for America -- but for Americans. May we strive to be worthy of those who serve to give us this nation in the first place.
Earlier this morning, I had the chance to talk about some of the issues facing our military on "Fox and Friends." If you missed it, click on the video below.
** Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Jim Inhofe and his family as they deal with the loss of their son in a tragic plane crash. Please join me in lifting up the entire Inhofe family during this unbelievably difficult time.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.