I received a holiday message from one of my senators with the customary admonishment about how grateful I should be to the government and its soldiers for my supposed freedom. I felt compelled to remind the senator that freedom is an inherent, inalienable right, bestowed by my creator and not by any government, and to refute this preposterous claim that invading third world countries is somehow making me freer. As one forced to pay for all of this, I find the claim particularly distasteful on the 4th of July. So, in the spirit of the holiday, I reprint his letter and my response here, so that the facts can be submitted to a candid world.
July 3, 2011
I gave my Fourth of July message in the Senate this past week, and would like to share it with you.
Some 235 years ago this weekend, John Adams proclaimed that July 2 would mark the most memorable epoch in the history of America. It was on that day the Continental Congress declared the 13 colonies free and independent of Great Britain’s crown. It was two days after that when Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was adopted.
And when did Americans first celebrate their independence?
Philadelphia is said to have thrown a big party on July 8, 1776, including a parade and the firing of guns. George Washington, then camped near New York City, heard the news on July 9 and celebrated then. But in 1781, Massachusetts became the first state to recognize July 4 as a state celebration. Ten years later, the young nation’s celebration was dubbed Independence Day.
This Independence Day, I hope every American will stop and think for just a minute about our freedoms – and just how much we owe those who came here long before us and mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And let us also remember the young men and women who have died in defense of those freedoms.
We traditionally observe the Fourth with fireworks and fanfare, pomp and parade. But today we remain engaged in far-away struggles to promote and protect the rights of others who, like us, value freedom and independence. Many of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are spending their Fourth in Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of world.
I recently was reminded of the commitment and selfless sacrifice demonstrated by one of America’s World War II veterans, who lives in my state of Florida.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Rickel, of Boca Raton, served as a waist gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress. Sgt. Rickel survived the daring bombing campaign of Schweinfurt, Germany in October 1943, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism or extraordinary achievement.
Sgt. Rickel and all the military members and all their families knew the risks and sacrifices they were making were worth it. As President Reagan once said, “Some things are worth dying for … democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.”
Indeed, our democracy is something to celebrate. I wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July.
July 4, 2011
The founders of our republic considered democracy “the most vile form of government” (James Madison). They did everything they could to try to limit the power that the majority had over the individual. That’s why they founded “a republic, if you can keep it” (Benjamin Franklin). Obviously, we have failed.
They also objected to the existence of standing armies during peacetime and would likely be taking up arms again if they were taxed by their government for anything other than defense of their own property. While I respect the courage and sacrifice of the soldiers, it is apparent that they are grossly misinformed. There is no cause-effect relationship between the wars that the United States has been involved in, at least since WWII, and what freedom we have left, which diminishes every day. I challenge anyone advancing this sophism to explain exactly how Americans would be less free if we had not invaded Korea, Viet Nam, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Of course any such explanation would be a list of non sequiturs and absurdities.
As a net taxpayer, I grow increasingly irritated by the ubiquitous exhortations by politicians and media figures to be “grateful to the troops for my freedom,” with the implicit accusation that I am not grateful enough. Even if one accepts the preposterous claim that these wars are making us freer, the gratitude should be directed at those who pay for all of this. I see no reason why I should be grateful to someone whose salary, expenses, education, and sometimes even retirement are all paid for by me – while I have to try to pay for all of those same expenses for myself and my family with what is left after the government’s rapacious taxation.
I for one will not be celebrating our democracy today. Rather, I will celebrate our lost republic in the hopes that it can one day be restored. I hope you will consider my thoughts on this matter and govern accordingly.