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EJ
05-25-09, 07:05 PM
http://www.itulip.com/images/williamsmithhouseMED.jpg

Memorial Day Tribute

Today, on an idyllic New England spring afternoon, walking the Battle Road where early on the morning of April 19, 1775 a conflict began that ended in the establishment of United States of America, you cannot help but be deeply moved.

On that day 234 years ago, a long column of British Regulars marches to Concord. Their orders: destroy muskets, powder, cannon, and other provisions that the rebels were stocking on Colonel James Barrett's farm.

The column approaches Lexington at dawn to find a militia formed up on the town green. They have no orders to engage. Their presence is an act of defiance--and a test by the leadership of a new nation.

The British Regular officers order the militiamen to lay down arms and disperse. Most disperse, but with their arms. A few who do not hear the order remain.

A shot is fired. Then more. When the smoke clears, two militiamen are dead and several are wounded.

The column of British Regulars continues its march to Concord.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Continuing on our walk, we reach the home of Catherine and Captain William Smith, pictured above. Below, the plaque that tells the story of the Smith’s efforts to assist an injured British Regular soldier, and what he did in return.

I took these photos with the camera in my cell phone. If you were transported back to that time, imagine trying to explain this to the Smith’s. Where would you begin? With the camera? The phone? The wireless network?

Impossible. Images captured? Displayed on tiny device, made of what? Out of oil, truth be told. Whale oil? No? Remember, we're talking to Captain William Smith.

Only God can do such things. We'd be arrested as heretics.

Yet the cell phone and the image of their home might be easier for them to accept than this: more than 200 years after the sacrifice of lives and livelihoods to bring forth a new nation founded on the principles of personal liberty and freedom, the government of that nation invaded foreign lands and tortured enemy combatants. They’d understand this instantly, that their sacrifices were at risk. The experiment in government of the people, by the people, and for the people had gone wrong. And I am just sure they’d be angry if they learned that we stood by and did nothing about it.


http://www.itulip.com/images/williamsmithnote.jpg


We’d like to thank the Lexington Historical Society and Minuteman National Park for preserving the Battle Road as a monument to those who were the first but not the last to die for an ideal.

Masher
05-25-09, 07:18 PM
Thank you.

Tybee Island
05-25-09, 08:20 PM
My fear is that we are at the doorstep of a time very similar to then.

marvenger
05-25-09, 08:59 PM
I'm not trying to detract from those with a legitimate ideal, but I'm not so sure the leaders of the new nation were so idealistic. George Washington described the US as a nascent empire and the idea was always security through expansion and hence the first US invasion in 1816 (http://hnn.us/articles/9095.html) and open stated goals to exterminate the savages by leaders. Abraham Linclon, thought capitalism and wage labour was better than slavery, but wage labour was far from a liberally ideal institution and hoped for something better. I'm not saying good things weren't done but it often seems like people try to portray 1775 as the peak of all that's good in men, I'd like to us move on while still acknowledging progresses made.

cjppjc
05-25-09, 09:08 PM
I'm not trying to detract from those with a legitimate ideal, but I'm not so sure the leaders of the new nation were so idealistic. George Washington described the US as a nascent empire and the idea was always security through expansion and hence the first US invasion in 1816 (http://hnn.us/articles/9095.html) and open stated goals to exterminate the savages by leaders. Abraham Linclon, thought capitalism and wage labour was better than slavery, but wage labour was far from a liberally ideal institution and hoped for something better. I'm not saying good things weren't done but it often seems like people try to portray 1775 as the peak of all that's good in men, I'd like to us move on while still acknowledging progresses made.

It's is impossible to judge the motives and actions of other through the passage of time. Perhaps centuries from now keeping animals as pets will seem cruel.

marvenger
05-25-09, 11:32 PM
that's my point, I think its good to acknowledge past bravery in its context but I think 1775 was a long time ago and some deeds done and ideals held then are idealised too much presently. I think EJ points to it a little in saying that there's future fights to be had, but I just wanted to add that 1775 was a long time ago and careful thought is needed to ascertain what is relevant from their ideals. In short I think they're idealised too much, without wanting to detract from the positive aspects of their bravery.

ricket
05-26-09, 11:40 AM
that's my point, I think its good to acknowledge past bravery in its context but I think 1775 was a long time ago and some deeds done and ideals held then are idealised too much presently. I think EJ points to it a little in saying that there's future fights to be had, but I just wanted to add that 1775 was a long time ago and careful thought is needed to ascertain what is relevant from their ideals. In short I think they're idealised too much, without wanting to detract from the positive aspects of their bravery.

Quite a few parts of the Constitution are still relevant today and have withstood the test of time quite well. To flesh out the mechanism that explains the most practical form of rule by which men can live peacefully and prosperously for 200+ years is enough evidence for me that indeed some of their ideas *should* be idealized and thus should be continually practiced.

I'll take the idealization of our founding fathers over "torture them thar aye-rabs!" any day of the week...

vinoveri
05-26-09, 02:16 PM
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Their presence is an act of defiance--and a test by the leadership of a new nation.
...
more than 200 years after the sacrifice of lives and livelihoods to bring forth a new nation founded on the principles of personal liberty and freedom, the government of that nation invaded foreign lands and tortured enemy combatants. They’d understand this instantly, that their sacrifices were at risk. The experiment in government of the people, by the people, and for the people had gone wrong. And I am just sure they’d be angry if they learned that we stood by and did nothing about it.




Thanks. I'm with them, angry at myself for not doing anything about it, and really angry b/c I don't begin to know what to do. We can ignore our consciences only so long before we have no claim to virtue and only ourselves for us and our progeny to blame ... cowards be damned.

MM - I believe this article originates from your neck of the woods.

http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis.asp

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The brave men on Flight 93 did. They took off on what they thought was a routine business trip, and, when they realized it wasn't, they went into General Stark mode and cried "Let's roll!" But it's harder to maintain the "Live free or die!" spirit when you're facing not an immediate crisis but just a slow, remorseless, incremental, unceasing ratchet effect. "Live free or die!" sounds like a battle cry: We'll win this thing or die trying, die an honorable death. But in fact it's something far less dramatic: It's a bald statement of the reality of our lives in the prosperous West. You can live as free men, but, if you choose not to, your society will die.
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...

But forget the money, the deficit, the debt, the big numbers with the 12 zeroes on the end of them. So-called fiscal conservatives often miss the point. The problem isn't the cost. These programs would still be wrong even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover them each month. They're wrong because they deform the relationship between the citizen and the state. Even if there were no financial consequences, the moral and even spiritual consequences would still be fatal. That's the stage where Europe is.
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New York, California... These are the great iconic American states, the ones we foreigners have heard of. To a penniless immigrant called Arnold Schwarzenegger, California was a land of plenty. Now Arnold is an immigrant of plenty in a penniless land: That's not an improvement. One of his predecessors as governor of California, Ronald Reagan, famously said, "We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around." In California, it's now the other way around: California is increasingly a government that has a state. And it is still in the early stages of the process. California has thirtysomething million people. The Province of Quebec has seven million people. Yet California and Quebec have roughly the same number of government workers. "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation," said Adam Smith, and America still has a long way to go. But it's better to jump off the train as you're leaving the station and it's still picking up speed than when it's roaring down the track and you realize you've got a one-way ticket on the Oblivion Express.

"Indolence," in Machiavelli's word: There are stages to the enervation of free peoples. America, which held out against the trend, is now at Stage One: The benign paternalist state promises to make all those worries about mortgages, debt, and health care disappear. Every night of the week, you can switch on the TV and see one of these ersatz "town meetings" in which freeborn citizens of the republic (I use the term loosely) petition the Sovereign to make all the bad stuff go away. "I have an urgent need," a lady in Fort Myers beseeched the President. "We need a home, our own kitchen, our own bathroom." He took her name and ordered his staff to meet with her. Hopefully, he didn't insult her by dispatching some no-name deputy assistant associate secretary of whatever instead of flying in one of the bigtime tax-avoiding cabinet honchos to nationalize a Florida bank and convert one of its branches into a desirable family residence, with a swing set hanging where the drive-thru ATM used to be.
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The key word here is "give." When the state "gives" you plenty—when it takes care of your health, takes cares of your kids, takes care of your elderly parents, takes care of every primary responsibility of adulthood—it's not surprising that the citizenry cease to function as adults: Life becomes a kind of extended adolescence—literally so for those Germans who've mastered the knack of staying in education till they're 34 and taking early retirement at 42. Hilaire Belloc, incidentally, foresaw this very clearly in his book The Servile State in 1912. He understood that the long-term cost of a welfare society is the infantilization of the population.

Genteel decline can be very agreeable—initially: You still have terrific restaurants, beautiful buildings, a great opera house. And once the pressure's off it's nice to linger at the sidewalk table, have a second café au lait and a pain au chocolat, and watch the world go by. At the Munich Security Conference in February, President Sarkozy demanded of his fellow Continentals, "Does Europe want peace, or do we want to be left in peace?" To pose the question is to answer it. Alas, it only works for a generation or two. And it's hard to come up with a wake-up call for a society as dedicated as latterday Europe to the belief that life is about sleeping in.

As Gerald Ford liked to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." And that's true. But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn't big enough to get you to give any of it back. That's the position European governments find themselves in. Their citizens have become hooked on unaffordable levels of social programs which in the end will put those countries out of business. Just to get the Social Security debate in perspective, projected public pension liabilities are expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8% of GDP in the U.S. In Greece, the figure is 25%—i.e., total societal collapse. So what? shrug the voters. Not my problem. I want my benefits. The crisis isn't the lack of money, but the lack of citizens—in the meaningful sense of that word.

Every Democrat running for election tells you they want to do this or that "for the children." If America really wanted to do something "for the children," it could try not to make the same mistake as most of the rest of the Western world and avoid bequeathing the next generation a leviathan of bloated bureaucracy and unsustainable entitlements that turns the entire nation into a giant Ponzi scheme. That's the real "war on children" (to use another Democrat catchphrase)—and every time you bulk up the budget you make it less and less likely they'll win it.

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Conservatives often talk about "small government," which, in a sense, is framing the issue in leftist terms: they're for big government. But small government gives you big freedoms—and big government leaves you with very little freedom. The bailout and the stimulus and the budget and the trillion-dollar deficits are not merely massive transfers from the most dynamic and productive sector to the least dynamic and productive. When governments annex a huge chunk of the economy, they also annex a huge chunk of individual liberty. You fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state into something closer to that of junkie and pusher—and you make it very difficult ever to change back. Americans face a choice: They can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea—of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunities to exploit your talents to the fullest—or they can join most of the rest of the Western world in terminal decline. To rekindle the spark of liberty once it dies is very difficult. The inertia, the ennui, the fatalism is more pathetic than the demographic decline and fiscal profligacy of the social democratic state, because it's subtler and less tangible. But once in a while it swims into very sharp focus.