This Memorial Day, I bring you a guest post from an author very dear to my heart: my dad, Michael Harrell. He had some thoughts weighing heavy on his mind today, and when he sent them to me, I felt they were worth sharing. He agreed to having them posted here. Whether you fully agree or not, I hope you appreciate the perspective of someone who has spent a few more years than I observing this great American experiment.
It has been a very long time since World War II. That is the last war that clearly saved the world from despotism and hatred. In that war there was a clear “right” and a clear “wrong.” The individuals who served in that war are now few, and aging. It is far too easy to forget that very many men and women sacrificed lives, health, finances and comfort to defeat a very evil enemy, and maintain the freedom and democracy we now enjoy.
We are now used to wars of questionable purpose and value. Wars fought with increasing technology that removes death and suffering ever further from our own homes; wars that seem too significantly motivated by financial gain or political advantage.
It is, I believe, important to remember that many gave up much that we can live as we live. I fear we have grown fat and lazy, and are unappreciative of the blessings we have and live with from moment to moment. Memorial Day is a time set aside that can serve to help us remember and appreciate what others have sacrificed.
We are now in serious danger of losing much of what those men and women gave to save. What a powerful enemy could not take away by violence, we are day by day giving up voluntarily. The man, elected by citizens of this free nation, who places the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier today, is bit by bit eroding the foundations of our democracy. Nor does he bear this responsibility alone; he is the leader with many who follow for their own purposes.
Truth may be the most significant and lamentable casualty. Reshaping facts and misleading statements have always been a part of our democratic process. Our current leadership, however, now seems to have no attachment to honesty and factual evidence, with resources for verifying truth being assiduously undermined.
A free and unbiased source of information, on which we can make evidence based judgments, is another fallen trooper. Mistrust and scorn for any evidence that disagrees with a strongly held construct seems determined to put to death all but collaborative “evidence.”
Respect for one another, regardless of ethnicity, country of origin, age, sex or any other imagined difference is perhaps an equally remorseful loss. The seeds of hatred, division and disrespect are being sewn widely and deeply.
Certainly we have never been a perfect society, honest, faithful and respectful in all situations and at all times. We have had tremendous failings. But until truth can be resurrected, evidence restored and respect regained, can we expect to continue in the freedom and democracy we so underappreciate?
God’s Kingdom is our true country, and citizenship in that country is the only true security. I pray that God will soon put all concerns to rest, and establish His forever true, faithful and respectful government on this earth, as it is throughout the rest of Creation.
Michael Harrell is a respiratory therapist, an exceptional husband, father of two and grandfather of four, a deeply devoted Christian, an avid reader, a talented vocalist, excellent chef and baker, and disability advocate. He lives in Ooltewah, Tenn. with his wife of more than 40 years and his faithful guide dog, Honor.