Of Thee I Sing …
by Debra Kozikowski
Wreath laying, flag waving, parades, backyard barbeques and on every cable movie channel it’s a war movie marathon. I watched one yesterday afternoon, set during World War II with a scene of soldiers in foxholes under a snowy sky. Some were trying to sleep, some were chatting, others complaining, and all but one unaware of the name of a new recruit who’d shown up the night before and been killed by a mortar blast within hours of his arrival to duty. Next thing that happened was another blast from the enemy. Scrambling bodies dove for the nearest cover to burrow in until the shells let up. One soldier turned to his foxhole companion and asked, “What’s my name?”
All this brave soldier wanted to know was that, if he died in the war, his name would not be forgotten — that the moments of his life and sacrifice would be recognized and remembered. Today is Memorial Day, 2009 and America is at war again.
There may be a soldier in front of a camera right now, recording a final message just in case she’s one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t make it back home from war. She may be making a video for her toddler to watch when the child turns eighteen. This daughter whose mother’s wish is that, should the unthinkable happen, her daughter will know that her mother was a woman of character and honor who gave her all to protect what we all hold dear — a safe and secure United States of America.
On May 21, 2009, President Obama delivered an address at the National Archives on the subject of national security. The following is an excerpt from those remarks:
The Framers who drafted the Constitution could not have foreseen the challenges that have unfolded over the last 222 years. But our Constitution has endured through secession and civil rights, through World War and Cold War, because it provides a foundation of principles that can be applied pragmatically; it provides a compass that can help us find our way. It hasn’t always been easy. We are an imperfect people. Every now and then, there are those who think that America’s safety and success requires us to walk away from the sacred principles enshrined in this building. And we hear such voices today. But over the long haul the American people have resisted that temptation. And though we’ve made our share of mistakes, required some course corrections, ultimately we have held fast to the principles that have been the source of our strength and a beacon to the world.
Now this generation faces a great test in the specter of terrorism. And unlike the Civil War or World War II, we can’t count on a surrender ceremony to bring this journey to an end. Right now, in distant training camps and in crowded cities, there are people plotting to take American lives. That will be the case a year from now, five years from now, and — in all probability — 10 years from now. Neither I nor anyone can stand here today and say that there will not be another terrorist attack that takes American lives. But I can say with certainty that my administration — along with our extraordinary troops and the patriotic men and women who defend our national security — will do everything in our power to keep the American people safe. And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are, if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals. This must be our common purpose.
I ran for President because I believe that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together. We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America — it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people and as one nation. We’ve done so before in times that were more perilous than ours. We will do so once again.