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Preserve, Protect, and Defend

By Remy Benoit

The fog rests heavy outside the window this morning; the air is heavy and still.

There is a fog across this nation this morning as just about forty-eight hours remain until the voting for the highest office in the land begins. This has been, as so many have pointed out, the nastiest campaign in our lifetime. And yet the "pundits" say too that they are expecting a huge turnout for the election - one source said maybe as much as 56%.

Wow, just a little over half of us. Shame on us if that is the best we can do.

The campaign followers have made this a race of personalities, of glib lines, of accusations and protestations. Yes, questions have been asked in debates and answers given in the limited time available for them along with the concomitant responses and counters.

But the real questions have gone begging even at this late date.

What are those real questions? They are very, very basic.

The first one is - Who are we, really?

The second one is - For what do we stand, really?

When the Framers of this government took their stand against tyranny the general consensus was that this grand experiment would fail because it was based upon an untried idea that simply couldn't hold together over so vast a territory.

That "ideal," that untried leap of faith is stated simply:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That ideal is based on this one:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Note the words Unalienable, Tranquil, Blessings, and Posterity.

These are not words based on reactive behavior, nor on fear.

They are strong, proactive, words, based on strong self-evident principles.

They are words based on concern for humanity, for posterity; they are not reactive words based on fear; they are proactive words set on establishing a legal framework for justice, for truth, for government accountable to the People; very accountable to the People.

Those who would lead that new government would have to be real statesmen.

What the real character of a real statesman, what the true definition of that terms is, is still open to argumentation but it is without doubt that it includes the ability to best present the best of who we are in the best light to other nations - to be a Communicator of our ideals, a Guardian of our ideals, a Preserver of our ideals, a Protector of our Ideals.

And, perhaps most importantly a Preserver, a Guardian, a Communicator of the very principles that make us who we are.

That calls for truth, for openness with the People of this country.

It does not call for endless secret classification of documents.

It does not call for the inability to say, "I made a mistake."

It does not call for controls on the media draped in empty words about the feelings of the family. This nation survived long, long posted lists of the dead and wounded in World War I and World War II. It survived the long list in Korea; we survived the body bags coming home from Vietnam, from Desert Storm. and from many other areas of engagement. We too often forget our Veterans, both still with us and not and yet in today's war we don't see them come home having given their all, or suffering terrible, life altering, injuries.

I ask why?

I speculate that it is not desired for us to see the true cost in American lives in this encounter, let alone that of Iraqi. And again, I ask why?

We have turned upside down the meaning of the word Patriot these days.

A true Patriot asks: Why?

A true Patriot does not permit the erosion of the basic rights of who we are by signing on to an Act that begins to abrogate them. A true Patriot acts in a proactive way for the country; not in a fear filled reactive way.

When you cast your ballot on Tuesday, ask yourself a few other basic questions:

Which one of these candidates has served his country, in all capacities, based on the principles inherent in the Declaration of Independence, in the Constitution.

Which candidate will be serve us proactively, forging the alliances that are necessary for the survival of all; the kind of alliances that pulled us through the "Big Ones."

Which candidate will serve us proactively with a constructive foreign and domestic policy based on hope, based on who we really are, and not based on reactive fear mongering.

The choice is there for you to make.

Millions of lives have been spent over the lifespan of this country to protect, preserve, and defend our basic rights, our ideals, and our freedom. Honor them with a vote based on hope, determination, and not on fear. They say that courage is showing up, defending what you hold to be true no matter how scared you are. Again, millions have shown courage to defend those ideals and who we really are. Actions based on fear are destructive - actions based on courage of conviction, on the justice and truth of our dream that is still unfolding are constructive.

Be a Patriot - vote with conscience, vote with the precious heritage that gave you the life you have here. We may not be perfect but we are the best dream of getting there, if we don't give away our precious, blood preserved, inheritance.

Remy Benoit

8 Marines died this morning in Iraq from a car bombing. Honor them - Vote.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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