The Greatest Generation

Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The day that the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy in an effort to liberate mainland Europe from the grip of tyranny. No matter how grandiose you try to make that sound it doesn’t do it justice. It’s hard for most people to comprehend the almost insurmountable odds those men faced and it’s equally hard for most people to understand the sacrifices that entire generation made in the name of freedom. What is sad to me is how that sacrifice seems to be lost on so many people.

On more than one occasion in the past two months, I have had interactions with people who would be considered millennials or younger who seem to be oblivious to the greatest generation. Example: twice now I have attempted to show someone in that age vicinity the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan, the scene showing the invasion of Normandy, and it absolutely did not hold their interest. In both cases I was completely shocked. I wanted to grab them and shake them, screaming at the top of my lungs “DON’T YOU CARE???? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? LOOK AT THEIR SACRIFICE!!!!” But all I could do was stand by horrified, thinking I had somehow let down both their generation and the greatest generation at the same time.

Before I go any further, I want to stress this is not a knock on millennials or any of the younger generation. They catch a lot of flack, and not all of it is warranted. Let’s face it, the Boomers and Generation X were the ones who raised them, so many of their perceived shortcomings owe at least a little thanks to that. Or, to paraphrase Marcus Aurelius in the masterpiece that is the film Gladiator, their faults as children are our failures as parents.

The problem is that it is ancient history to them. The remaining veterans of that era who are trotted out on D-Day, Veterans day and other occasions to serve as the feel good props for everyone to say they remember have no relationship to them. At best they are their great-grandparents or great-great-uncles and aunts. That’s the best case scenario. In most cases they may be farther removed than that, if they have any relationship at all. The harsh reality is these are simply old people to whom they have no connection. The events of World War II may as well be Peloponnesian War, it is that distant to them.

That is a hard pill to swallow for those of us to whom these people are our grandparents and parents. We have direct relationships with the people involved. When I see the stunning visuals of Saving Private Ryan or the brilliant Band of Brothers, I am imagining my grandfathers and great-uncles. When I hear about the sacrifices of the people back home I think about my grandmothers and the remaining family members who were not over there but lived through it. I think about them because these are people I knew and know. I have direct relationships upon which to draw with the people who lived these events. Most millennials and younger, sadly, do not.

Another perhaps even harder pill to swallow is that these children grew up in a time of war that was vastly different from other wars and as a result they are a bit desensitized. The casualties of D-Day alone are almost the same number as the total for the entirety of the Iraq war, so the size and scope of World War II is lost on them. To them, war is no big deal. They lack the frame of reference that we have. They don’t understand the brutal, ruthless tyranny that we were fighting against because they are now being bombarded with the idea that Donald Trump is some kind of dictator.

Despite my usual proclivities, I am not trying to make this a political post. What I am simply trying to do is shed light on the differences between how we grew up and how they did. It is a drastically different world today than when the people of the greatest generation lived. Let’s face it, it is even drastically different from when I grew up. These worlds are night and day. They are as different as Mercury and Pluto. They simply are not the same.

Even the moniker “the greatest generation” only works to drive a wedge between that generation and this one. When they hear us say that our grandparents were the greatest generation, oftentimes today’s youth take it as an insult. It comes across to them as though we are proclaiming “you’ll never be as good as they were.” Rather than taking it as something to live up to, to be a person worthy of their sacrifice, it has the unintended effect of further alienating an already estranged generation. For a generation constantly bashed on social and traditional media by their forebears it does nothing to encourage, only discourage.

Still though, it’s a shame. It’s a shame because what those people did was unlike anything in the history of the world. I don’t say that to be hyperbolic. People went on rations, they worked in factories to make the equipment, they spent what little money they did have to buy bonds to fund the war effort. Women who had never worked outside the home, and had no desire to, went to work to keep everything going. Audie Murphy, who became one of the great legends of the war, was 5’5″ and weighed 112 pounds when he joined the Army and he had to talk his sister into helping him lie about his age just so he could enlist. He wasn’t alone either, many other young men did similar things just to step up and serve their country in the name of freedom.

Because that’s what this is all about: freedom. The reason we praise them so much and call them the greatest generation is because they willingly made sacrifices that caused themselves extreme hardships and even death just to stop brutal tyrants from conquering the world. From Normandy to the Pacific, from Africa to Russia, these brave souls threw themselves willingly into harms way so that the tide of tyranny could be stopped. What’s more, they knew that many of them would die but they did it anyway.

This is why we make such a big deal about them. Because they made sacrifices that most of us can’t even comprehend just to ensure freedom. Because they laid down their lives willingly in order to change the tide of history. Because they fought to give us the very freedoms the we all take for granted every day. This is why we call them the greatest generation, because they sacrificed themselves so that we wouldn’t have to.

We would all do well to remember and honor that rather than simply paying it lip service as it seems we so often do. Because it isn’t the younger generation’s fault that they don’t understand these things, its ours. We haven’t lived it for them and we haven’t shown it to them. We can’t hold them to a standard that we fail to meet ourselves. We don’t get to parade the men and women of that time in front of their faces while admonishing them for living in the world we created with what that era gave us. It isn’t fair to them and it isn’t fair to the greatest generation.

So take the time this D-Day to reflect on those sacrifices. Examine yourselves and see if you’re adhering to the standards they set or hiding behind them. Then, make adjustments accordingly. I know I’m going to.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

In the wake of the recent shooting at a government building in Virginia Beach which left twelve people dead, Virginia’s Governor has called a special session of the legislature to enact gun control. I wish I could say I am surprised. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone is.

It is no surprise that a left-wing governor, embroiled in controversy over his racism, wants to strip law-abiding citizens of their rights. It is a politically expedient thing to do in his situation, and certainly a relief for him and those around him. He now has a good crisis to exploit, thereby relieving himself of some political pressure as a result of his racist tendencies. The unfortunate thing about it though is that it illustrates how far we have drifted from the original foundation of our nation.

The flag of Virginia depicts a person (a tyrant) being killed with the latin phrase “Sic Semper Tyrannis.” This phrase translates to “thus always to tyrants.” It is a graphical representation of the attitude present at the foundation of our country. The attitude that our rights are inherent, that they are given to us by our Creator, and that defense of those rights against those who seek to trample them is one of the highest ideals to which one should aspire. More than that though, it was the idea that this was the only legitimate purpose for the existence of a government.

It seems that we have come full circle. Now, rather than protecting our rights, the government again seeks to trample them. As I write this, there are literal cheers and applause as the Governor of Virginia and his administration hold a press conference to demand that we surrender our rights. Under the guise of protection against the backdrop of a horrific event, people are cheering on the idea that if we strip the law-abiding citizen of their rights then we will all magically be safer.

Never mind that murder is already illegal. Never mind that people were stripped of their rights and not allowed to carry their own personal protection within the building in which this terrible tragedy occurred. Never mind that if even one of them had been able to do that this tragedy might well have been averted. No, never mind any of that. What we need now is the further erosion of the fundamental rights to life and liberty inherent to us all.

Therein lies the absurdity of it all. The people who worked inside that building had their rights stripped from them and as a direct result they were murdered by someone who had no regard for their lives, much less the laws that were supposed to make them safer. The very definition of the word criminal is “one who has committed a crime,” therefore criminals, by definition, do not follow the law. So why, then, do these people cheering think that more laws will somehow protect people?

The answer is, they don’t. Clearly no rational person could honestly believe that another law will stop a person who is intent on breaking the law. It’s asinine. They know this will make no difference. That’s not why they are doing it. What they really care about is their agenda. This incident is something they see as an opportunity to implement their agenda.

The primary reason for the enactment of the Second Amendment was to allow for the citizens to resist a tyrannical government. It wasn’t for hunting, it wasn’t for sport, and it wasn’t for collecting bits of nostalgia. It was for protection. The fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or property but that’s another blog) exist with the knowledge that there are those who would attempt to deprive you of them. Accordingly, the most basic of all rights then, is the right to defend yourself from said oppressors.

And that’s where the rub comes in. These people know that to enact the type of government that they ultimately desire they will need complete submission to the state. As long as the citizenry have a means to resist that submission, they cannot achieve their goals. That is why they hold disgusting press conferences dancing on the graves of people who aren’t even cold yet championing the further erosion of your fundamental rights. Because it suits their agenda. They cannot, in the words of Barack Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, let a serious crisis go to waste because it’s an opportunity to do things they could not do before.

Now I realize some people may be inclined to think that I am conflating the issues, but I am not. Look at it objectively. Every single time one of these things happens, they immediately trot out their arguments in favor of gun control. Every. Single. Time. I can almost hear the argument now “well yeah, because people were shot with gun, if the gun wasn’t there it wouldn’t have happened.” But that’s an absurd argument for a variety of reasons.

The gun was merely a tool. The intent of the person to murder innocent people is the real issue here. The lack of regard for human life. The complete breakdown of the mental state of a person that leads to the justification of a moment’s anger as a legitimate cause for mass murder, that is the issue.

Now before someone says it, “but the gun made the killing easier and allowed for more victims.” No, actually, it didn’t. What provided that opportunity was the fact that law-abiding people within the building were left without a means to protect themselves. That is what caused the high number of fatalities, not the gun.

Nevertheless, they always seem to have some ready-made solutions involving more restrictions on guns. The removal of the gun from the hands of the citizenry is an ongoing crusade for them. It has nothing to do with the crime that was committed, it is a part of their agenda. These incidents actually work in their favor because it gives them a fresh platform from which to spew their madness. Notice how no matter how many facts and statistics you show them that refute their claims, they stick with it? Their responses are ready-made because their agenda already exists.

This is why they froth at the mouth and make much ado over incidents like these. Their socialist, communist, big-government utopia is within arms reach, all they need is but to eliminate the guns. It’s so close they can taste it. “Think of the children!” “Agony, agony!” “Won’t someone please do something?!?!” “Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough!!!” They scream as they wring their hands and gnash their teeth for show, all while salivating at the thought that they can achieve their true end goal.

Unfortunately for them there will always be people like me who see that end goal for what it is. Tyranny. I will not sit idly by as you parade innocent victims around and try to use them as a justification for the enactment of tyranny. Those victims did not deserve to die and your previous tyrannical gun control efforts are directly responsible for their deaths. I will not fall victim to your propaganda and give up more of my rights to aid your agenda. Depriving me of my right to defend myself does nothing to prevent tragedies such as these, it only serves your agenda. An agenda which, by the way, goes against this country’s foundation and against the foundation of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As evidenced by the flag itself, that is not what the people here stand for, and it never will be.

The right to keep and bear arms is a right, you don’t get to violate it. As far as I am concerned, every law is an infringement. I will not comply, I will not submit. I will not give in to your gun control agenda, or any of your agenda for that matter, and I will fight you every step of the way as you try to implement it. Sic Semper Tyrannis.

With Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?

It seems the political arena has devolved. No, I’m not talking about the absurdities that are the calls for impeachment and the equally asinine chants of “obstruction of justice”. I’m talking about how the political parties have drifted, and in some cases sprinted, away from their original ideologies. Specifically, the Republicans.

Sure, it’s easy to call out the Democrats for their shift from “ask not what your country can do for you” to the open embrace of “gimme gimme gimme” socialism, but that’s not what I’m talking about either. What I am referring to is how the Republican party has disregarded its principles in favor of becoming “Democrats lite” (yes, that spelling was on purpose). That may sound harsh, but it is exactly what has happened.

Gone are the days of the competition between Wilsonian progressives and the party of lower taxes. The political arena has now reached a point in which there are two parties competing over who one gets to run your life. While they may not necessarily run on a platform expressly stating that, it is, however, what they are attempting to do. Look at the debate over Obamacare, Republicans fell victim to the “what are you going to replace it with?” trap. When a doctor diagnoses someone with cancer, they go in and try to remove it, they don’t ask what will replace it. Likewise, a party that claims to be for small government should not be having arguments over what the replacement for Obamacare is, they should be focused on its repeal.

Similarly, the State legislature in my home state of Virginia is controlled by Republicans. Granted, it is a slim margin but a margin nonetheless. Despite this, a recent bill was passed that will create in increase in cost to every member of the Commonwealth for almost everything we buy. It was an increase in the gas tax along interstate 81 as well an increase in fees related to trucking. The irony here is that this was passed in the name of improving the roads.

Why is this ironic, you ask? Well, because every time someone like me starts talking about reducing government, cutting spending, and lowering taxes we are inevitably hit with “muh roads.” The big government types always like to try and justify their outlandish spending on ridiculous social disasters by conflating all spending with that of legitimate government expenditures such as roads. Now, here they are, justifying an increase in taxes by stating that it is needed for the main thing that they are already taxing us for. The worst part of it all (other than the negative impact it will have on the entire commonwealth) is that the bill was not just passed by the Republicans, it was written by one.

It’s bad enough that the Democrats are inching us ever closer to their big government utopian dreams, but now we have to worry about Republicans as well? It’s absurd. It’s not why you were elected. You campaign on smaller government and low taxes yet when we send you to represent us, you just try to implement your own version of the Democrat agenda. The funny thing is, this is exactly why the Democrats keep winning.

When you try to do the same thing as someone else, you cannot win by being a lesser version. There is a reason Coke is more popular than Diet Coke. On top of that, Republicans are seen as the party of Evangelicals so if you’re trying to run someone’s life and their two options are secular and Evangelical, they’re going to choose secular every time. No one wants their life being run by someone who is “holier than thou.” This is why you lose.

More than that though, this is why WE lose. We lose because you present people with a choice that isn’t a choice. We lose because you turn around and stab us in the back by supporting the antithesis of why we voted for you. We lose because you feed the leviathan which in turn makes our lives more difficult. Worse still, we lose because the big government that we voted against gets implemented either way.

Now, before someone chimes in and thinks this is a Libertarian manifesto, it isn’t. Libertarians come in two types, those who put the LIB in Libertarian and Republicans who smoke pot. That’s not to say that I don’t support Libertarians, I do. But I think that if Libertarians spent half as much effort at reforming the Republican party and getting it back to its foundation as they do trying to convince people that they’re not Republicans…well I wouldn’t have needed to write this blog to begin with.

Therein lies the crux of my argument: the Republican party needs a Reformation. We need Republican Protestants. Our own versions of Hus, Luther and Calvin, if you will. People who will help us to rid ourselves of the McCains, the Romneys, and all those who are working against a Republican president rather than with him. Our own Great Schism, so to speak, to drive a permanent wedge between those of us who genuinely want smaller government and fewer taxes and those who just want to control all the spending. Between those of us who believe that government governs best when it governs least and those who believe that they have the best plan to run our lives.

It will take work, but it is not an insurmountable task. It may take considerable work outside the Republican party, it may even take considerable work against the Republican party. But those of us who believe, as our Founders believed, that we should be able to run our own lives free from interference, can still win. Like St. Patrick, we too can drive out the snakes from within our party. Because with Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?