Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fourth of July 2016

The author with Minuteman statue
Concord, MA

As we pause to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence it seems appropriate to consider the vital role played by the American military in the creation of our nation and its transformation of our world.

We are not a militaristic nation but we are a nation that is deeply proud of our military.  We are not a perfect people.  We have made many mistakes.  We have not always lived up to our noble ideals.  It is important to remember what happened at Wounded Knee, My Lai and Abu Graib.  But it is also important to remember the amazing things that the US military has done in our world.

Lexington Green, MA
On April 19, 1775 British soldiers marched from Boston to Lexington and Concord to seize a cache of arms.  They were confronted on Lexington green by citizen soldiers who were farmers, merchants and tradesmen.  The “shot heard round the world” was fired that day on Concord bridge.  Liberty was not a gift of the English crown; she had to be taken by force by an armed rebel populace.

Later that year American forces invaded British Canada.  My own ancestor, James Van Rensselaer, was a citizen soldier in the siege of Quebec and his commanding officer was Benedict Arnold.

The American Revolution is often portrayed in rosy-hued colors due to its remoteness and patriotic outcome.  It was, in fact, a horrendously bloody conflict.   Recent scholarship has placed the total number of Americans killed in the American Revolution at around 25,000 which compares to a total US population of the thirteen colonies in 1775 of 2.4 million.  Thus over one percent of the total population of the thirteen colonies were killed over the course the nearly eight and half years of the war’s duration.

After the American Revolution we would fight Britain again in the War of 1812.  We fought our way westward across the continent in many brutal wars against the Native Americans.

Polk Campaign Flag
Smithsonian Museum
In 1846 president Polk launched a war against Mexico.  This was and remains a controversial chapter in American history.  Congressman Abraham Lincoln opposed the war.  Thoreau refused to pay taxes to support the war and was briefly jailed.  Even Ulysses Grant, who fought in the war, condemned its prosecution in his Memoirs.    But without the Mexican American war the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico would never have been added to the Union.  Without the Mexican American war the United States might never have become a coast to coast superpower.
Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, HI
Imagine for a moment what World War II might have been like had Polk not fought the Mexican American war.  The Japanese would never have sunk the Arizona at Pearl Harbor to start the war because Arizona would have belonged to Mexico.  It is unlikely that an American naval base at Pearl Harbor would have been built without Polk.  The atomic bomb would never have been dropped on Hiroshima to finish the war as it could not have been tested at Alamogordo in New Mexico.

Nearly a hundred years ago in 1917 America Citizen soldiers went “over there” with the American Expeditionary Force to fight the Central Powers in World War I.  By 1918 the Kaiser would abdicate.  In 1941 they would get the call to combat Hitler and Imperial Japan.  Just over 71 years ago American soldiers would be liberating the Nazi concentration camps like Buchenwald and Dachau thereby helping to end the Holocaust.  Without American invasions at places like the beaches of Omaha and Anzio the world would undoubtedly be a darker place.

After World War II American forces remained engaged with Europe garrisoning the nations of former adversaries during the Cold War.  NATO was founded and the Cold War was won without a shot being fired.

Today we face the threat of global terror networks that have perpetrated horrors in Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino and, most recently, Orlando.

Our enemies must know that Americans do not love war for war’s sake.  To do so is the definition of fascism.  We are and always have been reluctant warriors.  But, when provoked, we know how to fight and will endure until victory and a lasting peace is won.

Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of those American patriots who have served in our military and those that serve today we are able to celebrate the 4th of July and to confront the challenges that face us around the world.

Thanks Small War Journal...http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/the-4th-of-july-confronting-terror-and-the-enduring-strength-of-the-american-spirit

Thanks The Times of Crowne Point, IN...http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/columnists/guest-commentary/guest-commentary-u-s-military-forges-nation-transforms-world/article_20806ea3-628c-5d50-9f98-6c57159674c1.html

Thanks Military Trader...http://www.militarytrader.com/military-trader/july-4th-the-enduring-strength-of-the-american-military-spirit

Thanks the Monitor, McAllen TX...http://www.themonitor.com/opinion/columnists/commentary-our-enduring-strength-of-the-american-spirit/article_be90cace-3fa4-11e6-9ffe-8fca4a6da1c6.html

Thanks Las Cruces Sun...http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/opinion/2016/07/03/terror-enduring-strength-american-spirit/86662460/

Thanks Military Times...http://www.militarytimes.com/story/opinion/2016/07/04/enduring-strength-american-military-spirit/86625430/

Thanks Lima News...https://limaohio.com/opinion/columns/190186/july-4th-the-enduring-strength-of-the-america

Thanks Investor's Business Daily...http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/july-4th-the-enduring-strength-of-the-american-military-spirit/

Thanks Washington Times...http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/27/the-enduring-strength-of-america/

Thanks South Coast Today...http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20160704/OPINION/160709978

Thanks Rise News...http://risenews.net/2016/07/never-forget-july-4th-really/

Thanks Tulsa World...http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/christopher-kelly-the-vital-role-american-military-played-in-the/article_a1cd92ac-4f0f-59ee-9ab8-60110c5e2119.html

Thanks Lebanon Daily News...http://www.ldnews.com/story/opinion/2016/07/05/enduring-strength-american-spirit/86707286/


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