“Remembering the Lessons of History as We Honor America’s Veterans”

By: Kenneth Willette – November, 2014

I have always deeply valued the honorable service and sacrifices rendered by veterans throughout our beloved nation.

These veterans came from vastly different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, economic classes and neighborhoods. However, they always collectively shared the common purpose of duty, honor, and love of our nation.

Their remarkable journeys often tested the limits of human endurance. Their courageous actions undoubtedly saved countless innocent lives across the globe. They never permanently conquered land or treasures for themselves, but they marshalled their great might, lifted entire nations from the wrath of mass-murdering dictators and often brought out the very best of humanity.

These brave American warriors were at times underestimated and ridiculed by their enemies. These formidable enemies could not quite understand how these small-town residents, inner-city dwellers, or farmers could cohere together, march hundreds of miles in miserable conditions, break through seemingly impossible obstacles, succeed against battle-hardened troops and occasionally be outmanned and outgunned. America’s enemies learned too late the inherent fallacy of that twisted logic– mainly because they could not fully comprehend that free men and women have more to lose than the blind followers of fanatical leaders, who divide people, indiscriminately kill civilians and promote a homicidal agenda of conquest and carnage.

It should always be remembered that not only hundreds of millions of Americans, but untold millions more in Europe and Asia, can directly link their personal freedoms and natural rights to the successful intervention forged by America’s finest guardians of freedom and peace. And we are not just talking about the right to vote for our elected leaders, voice our opinions, practice our faith, engage in peaceful assembly and travel freely—all admirable and well-defended liberties.
American soldiers have also ensured that hundreds of millions of innocent men, women and children– both here and abroad– are equally free from the tyranny of political oppression, the advent of religious persecution, and the darkest atrocities of ethnic cleansing and wholesale genocide. Freedom from fear, freedom from imprisonment for contrary political thought, freedom from deportation in the middle of the night to reeducation camps, or worse, execution. These guiding principles have liberated generations from the evil forces of Nazi Germany, the Japanese Empire, the godless Communist regimes of Eastern Europe and cowardly, soulless terrorists. This humanitarian and moral fight continues to this very day.

For all of these reasons, we must never forget the lessons of history. We must always pay tribute to the ultimate sacrifices offered by hundreds of thousands of American soldiers since our nation’s birth. And we must always be mindful that freedom is never free.

Because for us to truly appreciate our loved ones and our cherished freedoms, we must look no further than the veterans assembled at parades and ceremonies, those stationed at bases both domestically and overseas, and those still suffering from wounds inflicted in combat. We must also keep in our thoughts and prayers the lost heroes who paid dearly to ensure that this democratic beacon of hope has survived and will endure for future generations.

Kenneth Willette is a former Methuen City Councilor and School Committeeman. Email him at: kennethwillette kennethwillette@verizon.net