EDITOR’S NOTE: Veterans Day is Nov. 11.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (BP) — My perspective on “patriotic” holidays has changed since my oldest son joined the Army.
As a ninth-grader Caleb told me he wanted to go to West Point. As a mom, I heard his big dream as if he were still the 8-year old boy who in a basketball game handed the ball to the opposing team because “they hadn’t had a turn yet.”
His determination became reality last year as he graduated with an international relations degree from the United States Military Academy and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Ask my son anything about history, politics or international relations and you will hear a healthy discourse on freedom and national heritage. He’s taught me much about military strategies that I never knew I needed to know.
With Caleb now in military life, I wanted to hear from him why patriotic holidays are important. This is what he taught me.
1. We need to understand the importance of “posterity.”
Posterity swings on the hinge of the past and pushes open doors for the future. We record names of those who died for posterity, so future generations will remember the importance of why they died. The liberties we have now were once called into question, yet it’s easy to forget that what we possess now was paid for by others.
Posterity is crucial to sustained freedom in the future. As John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife: “Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.”
2. Our greatest threat is not foreign enemies. It’s a generation that forgets.
Lack of remembering the past threatens freedom in the future. According to my son, “Our greatest threat as a nation right now is not ISIS, Russia or China; our greatest threat is a generation that forgets what it is like to not have liberties or to have those liberties threatened. The only way to not forget is to study history.”
He backed up his words with another quote from John Adams: “I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.”
3. Remembering honors the time and place where God has placed you.
God is sovereign over nations. He appoints times and boundaries where people live (Acts 17:26). American citizenship is not to take priority over heavenly citizenship of those who follow Christ. Our American citizenship does, however, provide a place and platform to stand for and fight for what is good and right. America is not a Christian nation, but there are Americans who are Christian. Let us steward our liberties to love and fight for those who have none.
4. Loving your country is a choice you don’t want to lose.
You have a choice to love your nation. And because you have a choice, you could choose not to love it at all. But, why would you choose not to love the very thing that gives you the freedom to make that choice? Loving your country is not the act of being right or a romantic feeling that swells when fireworks are shot to the tune of the “Star Spangled Banner.” We love our nation not because it’s a democracy but because it’s a republic. A republic is built so the 49 percent minority can’t be bullied by the 51 percent majority. A republic gives sovereignty to each individual person. To not love this would be to give up your individual rights — even the right to choose the country you love.
This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. became Caleb’s favorite in high school: “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” It’s this quote that rang in my ear when I saw him commissioned.
I’ve definitely entered a season in my life where I’m realizing the depth of grit and tenacity of the men and women who gave their lives that provide me the freedom that I possess. To these in the past and to those in the future, I will remember.