Saturday, July 03, 2004

Pondering Freedom I

A while back my friend Ricyos, aka Shane Stewart, wrote something for Memorial Day in his journal and, with his permission, I have posted it here as it is near Independence Day. It makes you think. I do not claim any copyright to this piece. All copyrights remain those solely of the author.

In Memorial
By Shane Stewart
Copyright 2004 by Shane Stewart

A couple of days ago I saw a commercial for one of the local news shows. The topic of the night was, as it has been in a lot of places I imagine, the new World War II Veterans memorial in Washington DC.

The thing that caught my attention was when the announcer doing the voice over said, “They’ve been called our greatest generation ever.” It was something to that effect at least – I’m paraphrasing.

At any rate, it’s pretty accurate.

It’s been 60 years, roughly, since the United States entered into the Second World War. Consider those two words for a minute – World War. A war so big that it involves the most powerful nations and armies on the planet. In this day and age of push button convenience, most people imagine that a war that big would be fought with the stroke of a few keys on a keyboard, or the turn of a key. Thermonuclear weapons make the prospect of another World War pretty unlikely, I think. The existence of the weapons discourages any plans for empires – get too happy with conquering your neighbors and a small nuclear explosion will reduce your capital city to a glowing memory. Then of course, there’s the idea that if they are used in wartime, by all sides – or at least multiple sides – it will be the end of world as we know it – either as the end of civilization or the actual destruction of the planet.

The idea of a World War is different now. The consequences are different. A World War in this day and age suggests that a lot of people would die. The planet itself may not be here when the shooting is over.

“Our greatest generation ever.” I think that’s true.

That generation – and others before and after it – fought and bled and died so that I could live as I do today, in a country where I am free to do and think and believe how I wish. Memorial Day is all about remembering those who have gone before – those who have died to defend my future. How do I remember them?

I have things I wish to do, or more accurately, things I want to see with my own two eyes, before it comes time for me to think of ash or earth.

I want to see glaciers.
I want to watch an iceberg being born.
I want to see Antarctica.
I want to see Ayers Rock.
I want to see Stonehenge.
I want to spend my birthday in Hiroshima, just once.
I want to stand among the redwoods.
I want to see the rain forest of the Pacific Northwest.
I want to see the spiders of the Amazon.

I want to remember those who fought and died to protect my freedom by exercising my freedom.

How will you remember them?

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