We commemorate what we perpetuate, wearing the perennials of nature to remember the crimes and follies of human nature. We wear paper or plastic poppies for a day, despite the fact that every day is Remembrance Day. We wear red poppies on Veterans Day, despite the fact that there are not enough fields to supply us with flowers and not enough flowers to last us for the rest of our years. We wear the consequences of war, not peace, because we live in Woodrow Wilson’s world.
We live according to his will, in perpetuity, unaware of our power to refuse to do his bidding; for we have it within our power to begin the world over again, relieving pain with Paine, and reverting to the world before 1919; exorcising Wilson’s spirit by exercising our right to determine what is best for America, free of a league of unequal nations and unjust resolutions; freeing ourselves of Wilson’s cross and sword, because we have no duty to sin for the creation of his commandments.
We do, however, have a duty to abide by common sense.
Recognize, too, that acceptance is not acquiescence: that we may work to repair the world without waging war, minus those exceptions that constitute wars of necessity; minus those exceptions that prove the rule, where massive attacks against us require massive retaliation by us, in which our arms may vary but our aim never changes, for victory is our goal.
Whether victory is temporary or total, beginning with reversal or ending in rollback, the terms of victory must be clear. When victory is so elusive as to render time elastic, when, for example, we must make an hourglass of Iraq and Syria and Yemen to achieve peace in the Middle East, victory is meaningless. When, on the other hand, liberty is essential and vigilance eternal, when we honor words with works, we assure the survival and the success of freedom at home.
When we ignore time and go abroad as missionaries of Wilson or George W. Bush, intent on outlawing war or ending tyranny in our world, when the calling of our time exceeds our lifetime on this planet, defeat is certain.
The savage wars of peace, raging since time immemorial, have no shortage of casualties. We have no duty to diversify the names of the dead, or water the battlefield with the blood of American servicemen and women, because no American has a duty to die for a military funeral. The price of victory is not a matter of equity or inclusion.
In charting our own path, we are free to march without following the road to war.
We are free to choose peace—to keep the peace—with liberty and justice for all Americans.
Our choice is sound, moral, and sacred.
Our choice is a pledge of restraint, allowing us to see the right, with firmness in the right.
Let us, therefore, choose what is right.
This much—and more—we owe the nation and our veterans.