On Memorial Day, many Americans like to pause to remember those who have died defending our nation. It is certainly thanks to them that we enjoy the freedom and opportunity that we have. We remember those who have died in military service, but we need to also remember those who served and have not given their lives. Many of them have suffered, be it a crippling wound, or emotional damage due to traumatic experiences; though ready to die for America, they live for America.
For me, I also like to remember the sacrifices of non-military personnel. We have government agents, law enforcement personnel from around the country, and our nation's firefighters, to name a few. It is also thanks to their efforts that we have both a reasonable degree of freedom and a reasonable degree of security.
But, while we occasionally (certainly not often enough) devote our attention to those who have died for our country, how much appreciation do we have for those who live for our country?
What about people who warn us of government corruption and waste, and then suffer retribution? Often times, they make great sacrifices - their careers, their financial stability, sometimes their marriages - and are left in a situation of living a relatively miserable life. More often than not, this sacrifice is made in vain, as too often their warnings go unheeded.
Sibel Edmonds comes to mind as someone who suffered persecution because of trying to warn us of government corruption that has essentially neutered the FBI and seriously jeopardized national security due to illicit foreign influence of our elected and appointed government officials in Washington. Sibel's case is special for a few of reasons: one is the magnitude of the corruption she became aware of; another is the fact that she is not an American by birth, and yet has shown far greater devotion to this country than many people who are "Americans" by birth; a third reason is that, while Sibel has suffered persecution, in many ways she is far better off than others who tried to call attention to government corruption.
At this point, Sergeant Terrance Yeakey of the Oklahoma City Police Department comes to mind. He paid the ultimate price, not at the hands of foreign enemies on a battlefield, nor on the streets protecting us against common criminals, but brutally tortured and executed at the hands of criminal assassins working for corrupt elements in our government.
They are two whose names I know, whose cases I am reasonably familiar with.
But, let's see if we can name a few more heroes who have chosen to live for America.
Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld comes to mind here. She has devoted much of her time and intellect to studying how terrorism is financed. She has written extensively on the subject, and has been the target of lawsuits filed overseas, in foreign courts under foreign laws, attempting to silence her. Her work is very well documented, yet this matters not in some foreign countries, where her book was not even published; her book was available there via Internet sales, but that gave the enemies of freedom and of civilization the opportunity they needed to bring their tremendous financial resources to bear to try to intimidate and bankrupt Rachel through libel lawsuits in foreign jurisdictions where Rachel stood no chance. They then tried to apply their judgements against Rachel here in the US. Rachel has received some publicity and some support among legislators in this country, but she sacrifices every day on the front line defending our First Amendment rights. How many of us know her name, know of her sacrifices, or appreciate her? How many of us have contributed somehow to her fight?
Pamela Geller is another person who comes to mind. She is on the front line defending our country against a radical, imperialist ideology that seeks to enslave us and take us back to the Dark Ages, to a time when women are little better than property, and when discrimination based on ethnicity and religious belief is both rampant and severe. Pamela Geller devotes herself to warning the world about the threat posed by an increasingly radicalized and militant Islam.
These people are not perfect; they are humans, who make mistakes, who feel stress, who feel fear; yet, they make a sacrifice to do what is right despite the risks they run, including the risk of being cast out by the very society they are fighting to protect.
These people are heroes, every bit as much as those buried in our national cemeteries.
There are many, many whose names I have not mentioned.
Find someone whose sacrifice you appreciate, and thank that person. Don't procrastinate - you never know when someone will do a Terry Yeakey on your hero, and your chance to thank that person while he or she is still alive will be gone.