Editor, The Spotlight;
With the Memorial Day observance just past, we are again reminded of the immense debt we owe to the American men and women who have given their lives to defend our nation and our way of life. Here in Bethlehem and across the country, we honored 1,321,612 Americans who died over the course of 240 years and 50 wars and conflicts. On parade routes, in memorial services and in our prayers, we gave thanks for those who paid the ultimate price.
Later this year, we will pause once more to pay our respects to all of those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. We’ll take another moment express our thanks for the sacrifice endured by these men and women and their families. As always, we will perform these rituals knowing that symbolic displays of gratitude are meager restitution for a debt we can never repay.
It has been said that “gratitude is a duty.” Implied is the suggestion that we can best show our appreciation by acting to support our commitment to the American values these service men and women have defended. Those values, expressed in our Constitution and specifically in the Bill of Rights, afford us the freedom to do “anything or nothing” while they presume that we will act with wisdom to preserve for future generations the freedoms enjoyed no-where else in the world.
Our right to freedom of speech obliges us to be informed and to speak out for justice. In doing so, we advocate for the rights that have been paid for through the sacrifices of our veterans. Our right to vote affords us the opportunity to determine the course of our democracy by participating in choosing our form of government. Together, they allow that we can correct the systemic imperfections that threaten the values we esteem. In carrying out these civic duties, we enact the best hopes of humanity, while we offer tribute to those who have served or died in their defense.
On Memorial Day, President Obama — speaking of the men and women who have made the “extraordinary sacrifice” — said “…these Americans have done their duty. They ask nothing more than that our country does ours.” Our duty, as citizens and countrymen, is to defend our way of life at every opportunity and to protect the rights that have been secured at such a cost. By speaking out and by voting, you can do your part to “preserve, protect, and defend” our Constitutional rights.
Your answer to this civic calling is the highest expression of gratitude you can offer our veterans. Take time to stay informed and in September and November this year, honor them by voting in the 2014 elections.