This Monday, May 26, our nation celebrates Memorial Day. Throughout the country, in towns large and small, citizens will congregate with much pomp and circumstance for memorial parades, dedications and speeches. Family and friends will gather from far and wide for cookouts and barbeques. Others will take advantage of the three-day weekend for their first getaway of the season.
These are all wonderful things, to be sure. But on this festive weekend which traditionally marks the start of summer, it’s important to pause, reflect, and even pray on what this day is all about: remembering the heroes who gave their lives in defense of the freedoms and liberties we so enjoy as Americans.
For those who have served or lost a loved one in combat, Memorial Day can be terribly lonely. It might mean spending time mourning at a beloved’s graveside while an entire nation – grateful though it may be – carries on. For them, this day of parades, cookouts, and getaways may seem like an insufficient tribute to the one they lost. And indeed it is.
But as those of us who have ever lost a loved one know, there are simply no words or actions that can ease the pain, for which time is the only antidote. The best one can hope to do is to lead a life honoring the person’s legacy.
To best honor the legacy of our nation’s fallen heroes, we must remember the oath they swore to uphold and for which they gave their lives. The first words of that oath read: “I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”
More than anything, then, our service men and women give their lives in defense of the Constitution. With this in mind, we must ask: do we revere the Constitution and cherish the God-given freedoms it affirms as much as those who have gone before us?
As a country today, we’d be hard-pressed to answer in the affirmative. Tragically, many of the constitutional principles our brave service men and women have fought and died for have become collateral damage in the moral relativist war on truth. It should come as no surprise, then, that today’s military is often deployed in unconstitutional ways.
Recall that it is Congress which retains the sole power to declare war. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution reads: “[The Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” And yet, America’s armed forces are routinely sent into harm’s way today without the requisite Congressional declaration.
Surely, such an egregious disregard for the text of the Constitution does not honor those who died in her defense. But what can we, the people, do?
Like most movements in our nation’s history, the effort to restore our founding principles must begin with the states. To that end, there is something the states — something Ohio — can and should do to redress the constitutional abuse cited above. We should pass a law, as other states have considered, barring our National Guard from being activated by the federal government without a Congressional declaration of war or authorization of military force.
Like all acts which call into question the power of the federal government, such a law would inevitably face a challenge in the courts. But it’s one worth fighting. The fallen men and women we honor this Memorial Day died valiantly fighting to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The least we, the people, can do is to insist that it remain the sovereign law of the land.
Brendan Shea is founder and president of Madison County Right to Life. He lives with his young family in London, Ohio and can be reached at email@example.com.