Lest We Forget

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

At the intersection of politics and culture, where our finances and reality connect, we find the shifting landscape of the past two years. Our circumstances and prospects for the future continue to be as unpredictable as the stock market and as unreliable as the recent, randomly forced mandates. Many Americans desire a return to their pre-2019 lives which were untainted by the coronavirus. Today is the tomorrow we feared yesterday, but hoped would never come. The light at the end of the tunnel has grown increasingly dim in the face of a vain and fickle political landscape that seeks to suffocate the future and kill the spirit of Americanism. The American spirit is our lifeblood and can be heard in the sound our heroes utter in silence from the grave.

A growing number of Americans, myself included, have become unrelenting in our efforts not to return to a pre-2019 way of life, but to press forward towards a new reality. In this new reality, there is an increased focus on positive economic change and an opportunity to concentrate on personal growth. Greater than these are the acknowledgments of seeds planted and rooted by generations past that still bear fruit. However, there are others asking for change, but ironically those voices seek to silence the legacy and inheritance of America while covertly advocating for a new global agenda, a pseudo-Great Reset. Neither the rise of national socialism nor COVID-19 can contaminate our great national legacy. As we look to Memorial Day, are there lessons from our soldiers, seamen, airmen and marines that can be applied to our post coronavirus environment?

There can be no honor or tribute without the sacrifices that are born through service. There can be no healing or mending without the wounds that are born through the pain of battle, and at the highest order, there can be no liberty or freedom unless they are born by the blood of patriots who consistently defeat the evils of tyranny. Remember always that war is indeed war. Regardless of where or when war is fought, foreign or domestic war is hell heaped upon men by men. Hence, we honor and remember the fallen as well as those who have endured the fiery furnace of battle. Memorial Day is solemn, personal and heartfelt as we reminisce about the brave. We who believe in freedom can never rest until the badge of selfless service is passed to the next generation. As the young become champions in battle and professionals in conflict, the old become stewards of history and tellers of great tales that describe the noble deeds of friends who have fallen.

“As the young become champions in battle and professionals in conflict, the old become stewards of history and tellers of great tales.” —Charles Jordan

I am in limbo, left with detailed memories of watching a female Army Lieutenant and her team burn to death in a vehicle after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) erupted in the night sky, transforming calm into chaos and binding flesh to metal while leaving an eternal stain on us all. The United States of America and its people charged me, and those I served alongside, with the inevitable task of transporting battle damaged vehicles, and the wreckage of lost humanity in and out of the Iraqi theater of operation. I am an eyewitness and participant in war with the first-hand aroma of the ultimate sacrifice. Death comes to us all, but death with valor is limited to a few. I am left with the harsh reality of watching three Marines die, giving their lives heroically for an increasingly deviant, ungrateful nation filled with entitled adolescent adults who use quick one-liners as weapons of warfare. Nothing can hold your thoughts captive like remembering the cruel nights turning to dark days of stinging loss. War is hell on your body and mind. The foolish continue to compare actual warfare to sociocultural complaining about fighting fallacies of injustice or perceived oppression from the safety of their parents’ basements while securely being indoctrinated by the unproven theories in academe.

I remember.

I remember the hurt that came with knowing a family member died in Iraq defending this great nation, having walked the same stretches of road that I walked, but called to be an eternal hero. While having his left leg and left hand blown off, the amputation of his other extremities caused a healthy 37-year-old to have a massive heart attack while in trauma surgery. If we forget that war is a personal endeavor that requires intimate sacrifice, we might be tempted to fall under the spell of those who believe healthcare, housing and education are inalienable rights endowed to us by our Creator, the God of Abraham. This is the same Creator who is so freely mocked, but called upon by unrecognizable patrons when in dire need of miracles.The down payment for any of our national benefits or entitlements is the blood and sacrifice of those who serve. These same spellbinding ideologies seek to take from those who toil by the sweat of their brow and give openly to those who have no ownership or investment in hard work or this nation. Great men die and leave behind families who are frozen in time, families continually shunned and shamed by the acolytes of socialism who cheapen the value of true inheritance.

Some may ask the veteran: “why should we fight;” “why should we serve;” “why should we risk comfort;” and “why should we sacrifice at all?” The answers are even simpler than the questions. SOMEONE MUST GO! Someone must fight! Someone must serve! Someone must risk it all! Inevitably, someone will die. If we could remember the greatest teaching for a misguided nation, “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend,” then well-intended intolerant socialists can see why we serve—for love. Memorial Day brings all generations of service members together into a non-politicized vacuum that harnesses that power of selfless service. The spirit of Americanism is shrouded in the Spirit of God.

More than a decade ago, a Vietnam veteran found me feeling sorry for myself while in the Dallas Ft. Worth Airport, feeling as though my years of service were in vain. He told me he did not want me to come home the same way he had. I had no reason to be ashamed. I did not and still do not know his name, only the face of a weathered man, thin as a rail, who hugged me as if I were his son, as if I were a returning hero. As he held me I collapsed in his arms knowing he understood all I had seen and done. I cried like a baby as I looked up at him and could not muster a proper thank you. I am still overwhelmed by the gravity of my service to this great nation, and that service connects me to every other veteran who has ever worn the uniform of this nation with honor and dignity.

2006—Charles sits atop a tank in Al Ramadi, Iraq. submitted photo

If we who believe in freedom could offer ourselves again to this great nation we would gladly, without hesitation or evasion, do so willingly. The goal has always been to fight to the last battle so that our sons and daughters could remain blemish-free. I find that the intolerable mission of those who seek to indoctrinate our youth with themes of socialism comes from the same unseen hand that refuses to take the oath to defend our country. Truly we have seen that socialism’s great ambition is transitioning to a communist society devoid of God and consumed by a tyrannical government. Socialism is incompatible with the spirit of Americanism in much the same manner as communism is the enemy of Christianity. There can be no easier way of establishing socio-communism in the United States than for the masses to forget the fallen and for the old to die without passing along the great tales of men of renown—America’s mighty men of valor.

For me, the military history of this nation is inseparable from the history of the American people. This history cannot be separated by race or class and increasingly includes women who have borne the burden of battle. The cause of freedom is joined at the hip with the pursuit of happiness, just as liberty is attached to those who fight tyranny. As a veteran of a foreign war, I am committed to preserving this great democracy and the memory of those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom. I could say more as an eyewitness to war, but the certainty is that the road of this democracy, at the intersection of business and politics, is littered with heroic men and women who deserve to be remembered daily. In the future, as the clenched fist of communism and its socialist sibling turn their backs on truly oppressed people, who will answer the call? If not America, then who? If not for selfless service, then for what cause will a brave man die?

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a tyrannical government, but more terrible hands await those who, out of selfishness and pride, fail to seek justice for the orphan and widow. America remembers its fallen on Memorial Day as a tribute not only to heroes who have fallen in battle but a deep salute to the orphans and widows who have sacrificed a loved one for the sake of this great nation. Remember them all on Memorial Day. Lest We Forget.


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