I won’t take much time, but I thought would offer this observation:
I’m sitting here doing homework for Advanced German. I’m translating and watching Hitler, particularly his speech at the Sportspalast upon becoming Reichskanzler.
As a speaker, he’s mesmerizing. I can make out some of what he says (I can read it better than hear it) and his use of rhythm, cadence, gestures—it is all remarkable.
Through the hindsight of history, though, I know what comes from his speaking. While he speaks of not lying or swindling (nicht lugen, nicht schwindeln,) he starts his own people on the course to destruction and horror. He sets out the groundwork for destroying all those who do not conform to his image—his efforts killing millions of civilian Jews, Gypsies, and myriad others—all through his words.
And then there are the millions who had to shed their blood to stop that one madman and what he caused.
If you think about it, before then there were the men and women who died that we would have a country at liberty, with the hope of avoiding tyranical governments that would lead us into wars like Hitler led his people into. And the ones who, since then, have died again to protect liberty—at least, as best that could be figured out how.
All we really have are cliches at this point—thank you, freedom isn’t free, and so forth. But they are true even if repetition has made them sound mundane.
Studying history has, at the bare minimum, the power to remind us of the importance of days like Memorial Day. We see the evils that were and are no more—the word “genocide” was created based on some of those evils—and we can celebrate. It gives perspective, and it gives pause.
Freedom is never free—someone has paid the down payment, others continue to pay the installments—and thank you is not enough. So cherish what we have and support those who protect it. Soon enough, more will have to give their lives to make the next payment.