This Memorial Day, I am reminded of something my father used to say to honor this weekend. “Don’t take your freedom lightly.”
If I wasn’t completely tuned-in, he would add, “It was more expensive than you can ever imagine.” While the only action he saw as a Navy Lieutenant in WWII was inadvertently blowing his converted fishing boat out of the water off the Golden Gate (another story), he lost his fair share of friends, as did most of those of his generation.
It took immeasurable courage and sacrifice to shake the bonds of hate and oppression that plagued the world from 1939-1945. On this Memorial Day, either for the sake of profit, privilege or out of impassioned ignorance (or some perverse combination thereof), a frightening number of people and politicians are taking our freedom entirely too lightly. By turning a blind or lethargic eye to corruption, prejudice, falsehoods, ignorance, arrogance, extremism, and divisive tweets, they are letting it slip away. In the blink of a lie, they pull us backward toward the brink of that same horrific abyss that cost the world so dearly.
This weekend, moral invertebrates will lay wreaths and pontificate while they continue to enable an administration that perpetually chips away at the norms and pillars of our democracy. They deface the currency of the fallen. They are not just taking our freedom lightly; they are quite simply letting it be taken.
Generations before us had to protect our democracy with their lives on battlefields far removed from the sanctity and safety of our Memorial Day barbecues. We, on the other hand, still have the luxury of only having to vote, volunteer, reinforce fact over fiction, expose grammatical aberrations and other overt acts of ignorance, and most importantly, resist malaise in the form of silence and inaction.
Speaking out and taking action beyond an occasional tweet or Facebook post is work. It’s time consuming. It’s draining. It’s frustrating. But it’s pivotal in truly honoring those that have died protecting our freedom and democracy. And it’s an infinitesimal price to pay especially in the context of a day in which we honor those who have paid the ultimate price.