James Mattis: Social Distancing can’t stop the closeness we feel honoring the cost of freedom


Submitted to VT by the Washington Post

James Mattis, retired four-star Marine Corps general and former defense secretary, writes in Washington Post Opinions: On Memorial Day this year, we may be keeping social distance from one another, but that cannot detract from the sense of closeness, the sense of community and the sense of shared sacrifice that we feel for one another on a day when we come face-to-face with the human cost of freedom.

What do we owe our fallen and their families on this day? Remembrance, for sure, yet we also owe a keen awareness of what they fought to defend: this great big experiment we call America.

…We are most indebted to our veterans who fell, and their families, for the survival of this experiment. They can never be fully repaid, but we begin to do so by respecting one another in this land of boundless possibilities, because those who faced down danger and paid the price on our behalf deserve no less.

Many of us enjoy America’s freedom by an accident of birth, yet we all live free in this land by our own choice. It is our responsibility to show respect and genuine friendship to each other as fellow citizens — including those with whom we sometimes disagree — by unifying around our radical idea. That is how we can meet our ultimate responsibility: to turn over to the next generation a republic in better shape than we received it.

Those who fell while wearing our nation’s cloth in defense of freedom, and the Gold Star families of their survivors, paid an everlasting price. Every American owes them a commitment to keeping vibrant the experiment for which they died.

Full op-ed: https://wapo.st/3cXvIYY


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  1. Does “land of boundless possibilities” include also the possibility to get to shoot random innocent folks around the globe in a country of your choice? Possibly even get paid for it..

  2. Not bad. I do like the prolific use of the term ‘experiment” to describe the US as it invokes a sense of continuation rather than a stable existing exceptionalism. I do differ though, in the thought of aiming for a successful transfer to a single generation, but instead we should be planning several generations ahead to promote deeper thinking and awareness of the challenges each subsequent generation faces. In this regard, counting no9t just the dead, but the intergenerational trauma by veterans and their families, and the communities, should lead us to scrutinize our use of military more closely. In the spirit of self healing, we should also be promoting a large Native American representation in our State Dept. while accentuating trade relations within the western hemisphere, and less involvement with the East. I’ve noticed it is a bit more peaceful between countries in North and South America. All Americans.

    • I believe in the spirit of our intention to move forward, we should adopt a national policy of updating our National Anthem every 100 years.
      My vote would be to hold that referendum to chose in 2020.
      My vote would be “The Thrill is Gone” by BB King. A special message to the Middle East and Europe.

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