Memorial Day is a day in which our nation honors those who gave their lives in military service to our country so that we could remain a free people. But what are those freedoms and where is the assurance that they remain intact for us?
We all have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those rights are protected in the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights. Therefore, our “freedoms” are in the Constitution, the same Constitution which all who enter military service swear an oath to support and defend against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.
What has made being an American so attractive to so many for so long is that our sovereignty, ultimate political power, resides in we the people ourselves and not in the government. Our founding fathers gave to us a republic, a representative democracy where the rights of the minority are no less than those of the majority. Those serving in our government, to include the President, are our employees and are accountable to the people and to the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
Each member of Congress who has not done all they could to confront and rectify the abuses of power and illegal acts committed by the Bush Administration over the past seven plus years, not the least of which was deliberately lying to take this country to war in Iraq, has betrayed their oath of office and violated their employment contract with the American people. With few exceptions, the only ones willing to keep their end of the bargain in defending our freedoms are the young men and women serving in our military, over 4,000 of whom have given their lives in Iraq and are now being memorialized. They gave their lives so that we the people could be self-governing, yet as a whole we the people have failed in our responsibility of self-governance. Our silence has been our consent.
The Downing Street Memo, released to the public over three years ago, documented how the Bush and Blair administrations had already decided by July of 2002 to unilaterally wage war on Iraq and that they would deliberately lie about imminent threats of WMD attacks from Iraq so as to get the support and consent of the American and British people. Since the release of the Downing Street Memo, there has been much more testimony and evidence documenting the intentional lies told by the Bush administration to justify an unprovoked war on Iraq. Over 4,000 U.S. troops, not to mention over one million Iraqi civilians, have died based on those lies.
In January of this year the Associated Press reported on 935 lies told by the Bush administration leading up to the U.S. attack on and invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. The report is available for all to see. However some Americans have yet to accept that our government knowingly sent over 4,000 patriotic young Americans to their deaths on a lie. They choose not to look at the evidence in favor of hiding behind the false patriotism of willful ignorance, all while the administration to which they give their sycophantic support continues to send young Americans to die in vain in Iraq.
“Freedom isn’t free” means more than our young men and women giving their lives in battle abroad. It also means participatory citizenship here at home. Should our representatives in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, continue to not hold the Bush administration accountable then it is we the people who are to blame for not demanding it and we would have let those killed in Iraq die in vain. There comes a time when our silence is betrayal, and that time has long since come in relation to Iraq. It’s been said that the truth will set us free. Honor our dead, demand the truth.
Note: Restino is co-chair and a founding member of the Central Florida chapter of Veterans For Peace and a member of Military Families Speak Out – Florida. He lives in Port Orange, FL.