Recently by Laurence M. Vance: War, Christianity, and the State
The Fourth of July is supposed to be celebrated as American Independence Day – the day when the thirteen original colonies seceded from the British Empire and its oppressive taxation, spying, regulating, and attacks on due process (sound familiar?).
As John Adams wrote to his wife about celebrating the nation’s independence:
The Second Day of July 1776 [the date the resolution of independence was approved by Congress], will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
There is one thing that Adams forgot to mention: adoration of the military. The Fourth of July is now nothing but Military Appreciation Day Number 2.
Military Appreciation Day Number 1 is Memorial Day. This holiday was first observed in honor of Union soldiers who died during the War to Prevent Southern Independence. It was initially called Decoration Day because the tombs of the dead soldiers were decorated. Originally celebrated in select localities, the holiday was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, because of an earlier proclamation by General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. New York, in 1873, was the first state to officially recognize the holiday. After World War I, the holiday was expanded to include U. S. soldiers who died in any war. It is now just a day to honor all things military.
Military Appreciation Day Number 3 is Veterans Day. This holiday began as Armistice Day – a day to commemorate the signing of the armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that ended fighting on the Western Front in World War I, “the war to end all wars.” A few years after World War II, the holiday was changed to Veterans Day as a tribute to all soldiers who fought for their country. Veterans Day has now become a day to honor, not just those who have served in the military during wartime, but those who have served during peacetime or are serving now. It is now just a day to honor all things military.
Independence Day is now wholly given over to praising soldiers, thanking veterans, reciting ridiculous slogans and poems about the military, and heaping glory, laud, and honor ad nauseam on the troops.
Nothing confirms this more than an e-mail that was forwarded around the country beginning the week before the Fourth of July. It begins:
Happy 4th of July!…. Let’s get this started NOW! So it will be out there on the fourth!
After the Pledge of Allegiance, which no one should waste his time reciting, there are these three statements:
For all of our other military personnel, where ever they may be.
Please Support all of the troops defending our Country.
And God Bless our Military who are protecting our Country for our Freedom.
Thanks to them, and their sacrifices, we can celebrate the 4th of July.
We must never forget who gets the credit for the freedoms we have, of which we should be eternally grateful.
Wherever they me be? Like I have said on several occasions, most Americans don’t care where the troops go, how long they stay, and what they do when they get there. Defending our country? Are there any U.S. troops that are actually defending the country? It seems to me like they are all overseas somewhere or on ship sailing where it has no business. God bless our military? How blasphemous to ask God to bless the greatest force for evil in the world. Protecting our country for our freedom? U.S. soldiers don’t protect anyone’s freedom – just ask this former solider. The military doesn’t protect our freedom; it stands by while our freedom is eroded and taken away. Thanks to the military we can celebrate the 4th of July? The U.S. military has never had anything to do with celebrating the 4th of July. Even the first Fourth of July was not in any way dependent on the U.S. military in any way. The Fourth of July celebrates the Declaration of Independence, not the day the Revolutionary War ended. Never forget who gets the credit? It is God who gets all the credit for any freedoms we had or still have. It is the God of heaven that we are eternally grateful for, certainly not the U.S. military – employees of the U.S. government. The greatest threat to freedom has always been our own government, not some foreign country or terrorist organization. And as James Madison said: “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” Since the U.S. military is not strictly used for the defense of U.S. borders, shores, coasts, and skies, it is nothing more than the president’s personal attack force staffed by mercenaries willing to obey his latest command to bomb, invade, occupy, and otherwise bring death and destruction to any country he deems necessary.
The three statements are followed by this poem:
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform;
so young, so tall, so proud.
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil;
how many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
NO, FREEDOM ISN’T FREE!
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
when everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant ‘Amen.’
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
of the mothers and the wives,
of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea.
Of unmarked graves in Arlington .
NO FREEDOM ISN’T FREE!
Right, freedom isn’t free; but wrong, freedom isn’t provided by the U.S. military. I have asked the same questions as those in the poem: “How many died on foreign soil?” “How many mothers’ tears?” I too have thought about the children, the mothers, the wives, the fathers, the sons, the husbands, and the unmarked graves in Arlington. The conclusion I have reached is this: What a senseless, unnecessary waste of life for any U.S. solider to die on foreign soil or be buried in an unmarked grave.
The poem was followed by these four statements:
Enjoy Your Freedom and God Bless Our Troops.
When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our servicemen.
Of all the gifts you could give a U.S. Soldier, prayer is the very best one.
Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you. Jesus Christ and the American GI. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom. You might want to pass this on … as many seem to forget both of them.
I will enjoy the freedom I have left, until the government takes it away. I will not ask God to bless our troops. I will say a prayer for our servicemen, but it will be a prayer that they come home and stop fighting unjust foreign wars, not a war prayer. Perhaps the most nauseating thing in this e-mail is the last statement that equates soldiers with Christ. As I have said elsewhere: Do soldiers imitate Christ when they bomb and shoot, when they invade and occupy, when they plunder and pillage, or when they maim and kill?
So, until Military Appreciation Day Number 3 comes around, happy Military Appreciation Day Number 2.
July 4, 2013
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, The Revolution that Wasn’t, Rethinking the Good War, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, and Social Insecurity. His latest book is War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism. Visit his website.
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