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Memorial Day 2020: 'a war that has no idea behind it, is simply a brutality'

Tomb of the Unknowns
In his May 30, 1868 Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery Congressman, later President, James Garfield said “I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung.”

Garfield, one of our most underestimated Presidents, knew what he was talking about because he knew war; he served as a major general in the Union Army during the Civil War, and fought in the battles of Middle Creek, Shiloh, and Chickamauga.

Memorial Day, as originally conceived as “Decoration Day” in Garfield’s time was much less a day of jingoistic patriotism and much more a day of remembering the terrible cost of war.

And it was a day when mere politicians recognized the great and undoubted sacrifice and courage of the fallen and humbled themselves in awe before it.

But this Memorial Day, if there was ever a time to respectfully breach Garfield’s admonition to stay silent beside the graves of our war dead today is that day; there are things that must be said at the graves of America’s war dead, because today’s politicians and generals are – in all too many cases – unworthy of leading a great Nation founded and preserved upon those sacrifices.

As we pass through the nineteenth year of our war in Afghanistan our thousands of dead in the war Islam has declared on the West demand we ask why is it so hard for our leaders, especially our military leaders, to understand the war aims of our Muslim adversaries?

The Military Times, reports Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters earlier this month that the Taliban were not living up to the Afghanistan peace agreement inked between the U.S. and the militant group in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 29.

Citing a Reuters report, the Military Times says the Taliban launched 4,500 attacks in the 45 days since signing the agreement — a nearly 70 percent increase in attacks between March 1 and April 15. Reuters cited two sets of data from a Western military source and an independent group.

Despite the spike in violence the U.S. has continued to draw down forces to a goal of 8,600 by July. CNN reported that there are fewer than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan — putting the U.S. ahead of schedule since the signing of the agreement in February.

There is no territory in Iraq or Afghanistan that is worth one American soldier’s life; but the ideas in the Declaration of Independence and of liberty under the Constitution are what Americans have willingly given their lives for since the Battles of Concord and Lexington some 240 years ago and it is those ideas that our enemies hate us for.

And make no mistake about it; Islamists understand they are not fighting for territory.

The ideas that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” are what Islamists are fighting to the death to defeat.

And this is not a new war.

It is a war that was fought at the Battle of Marathon 2,500 years ago when the Greeks defeated the Persians to preserve the idea of democratic government; it is a war that has been fought in a thousand battles since then, and it is a cause that Americans have uniquely adopted as the one reason to take a country dedicated to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” into the death and sorrow that war inevitably brings.

But for some reason today’s politicians and generals are too cowardly to speak the truth about what is really at stake in our wars in Afghanistan and Near East.

In the obscurity into which President Garfield has fallen another piece of his wisdom has been largely lost to history; “Ideas are the great warriors of the world, and a war that has no idea behind it, is simply a brutality.”

Today, as we honor our fallen on Memorial Day 2020 let us especially remember those who have fallen in our wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and unacknowledged battlefields throughout the world. Let us honor the ideas for which they fell and resolve to demand that, in remembrance of their sacrifice, today’s politicians and generals have the integrity and moral clarity to openly defend those ideas by speaking the truth about who our enemies are and what our wars in the Afghanistan and the Near East are all about – and that is defeating Islamism and preserving our own liberty.

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