The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Friday, June 1, 2007

New England, The Devil and P.J. O’Rourke

It’s a blue moon, and a Blue Moon of May (I began this before midnight). I’m a Tibetan Buddhist, and the Full Moon of May -- or the Wesak Full Moon -- is the great festival of the year: A time for contemplation and meditation. Since we actually got TWO of them last month (a blue moon in this sense is two full moons in one calendar month, and NOT a literal blue moon caused by the eruption of, say, a Krakatoa-sized volcano) here is a blue moon meditation.

There are a couple of considerations, and I might as well start with the first: on June 1, of 1974, thirty-three years ago, I was married for the first time, in a profoundly American setting.

My wife-to-be’s father had purchased a house on the western outskirts of Sudbury, Massachusetts, that had been the Wayside Inn’s keeper’s home. There was a sign on the front lawn, on the Boston Post Road (created when Benjamin Franklin was the Royal Postmaster General of the colonies) that read: ‘Longfellow’s Wayside Inn 1000 feet.’

This was often missed by drivers looking for the venerable tavern that Longfellow composed his ‘Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’ poem in -- at least it was the star poem in Longfellow’s TALES FROM A WAYSIDE INN. George would be out front, mowing the grass, and somebody would drive into the circular drive, pop the trunk and say: ‘Get our bags.’

And, often, he would take their bags and put them up on the porch, so that when they walked a ways into the house, and realized that they’d invaded someone’s home, they would have to put their trunks BACK into their trunks in the most sheepish and embarrassed manner possible.

And it was funny as hell.

In 1974, the Bicentennial was well under way, and so was Watergate. Nixon would resign that summer, and every car in Massachusetts had a bumper sticker reading: ‘DON’T BLAME ME, I’M FROM MASSACHUSETTS’ referring to the 1972 election in which George McGovern carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia against Richard M. Nixon.

It was a strange clash of cultures.

But on that day, we were married in the Wayside Innkeeper’s house, with her uncle presiding over the clerisy's festivities. He was a Congregationalist minister: the denominiation which the New England Puritans became, going back to Cotton Mather and the Boston that young Ben Franklin found so oppressive that he ran away to Philadelphia when he was sixteen.

... the church and religious culture of the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony formed the basis of post-colonial American Congregationalism, specifically the Congregational Church proper. The term Puritan was used by the group itself mainly in the 16th century, though it seems to have been used often and, in its earliest recorded instances, as a term of abuse. By the middle of the 17th century, the group had become so divided that "Puritan" was most often used by opponents and detractors of the group, rather than by the practitioners themselves.

Later, the adult Benjamin Franklin would build the road that the house was built on, and would lend his name to my great-great grandfather, the Civil War veteran, Benjamin Franklin Williams (who served with his brother, George Washington Williams).

There was a connection to Washington at that wedding, too: my bride carried a piece of Martha Washington’s wedding dress, a family heirloom, passed down through the Custis line (George and Martha Washington had no children).

There was even the traditional photographic portrait of the bride in The Boston Globe section devoted to that sort of thing. (The groom, as I recall, was unworthy of photographic preservation, but was accorded copy as befitting his essentially cameo role in the production. There is nothing so useless at a wedding as the groom, I have come to learn. Were it not necessary that he be present for the ceremony, American weddings would undoubtedly benefit greatly by his absence.)

Which gave me plenty of time to consider the historic overtones of the wedding that was taking place amidst the historical pageant that is suburban Revolutionary Boston.

And, aside from the traditional overtones of marriage, there was a profound and moving echo of American Revolutionary War history surrounding it. And, of New England history. Thoreau once wrote (ever the booster of causes, in this case, the cause of Oregon Territory emigration):

"Eastward I go only by force; but westward I go free. It is hard for me to believe that I shall find fair landscapes or sufficient wildness and freedom behind the eastern horizon. I am not excited by the prospect of a walk thither; but I believe that the forest which I see in the western horizon stretches uninterruptedly toward the setting sun, and there are no towns nor cities in it of enough consequence to disturb me. Let me live where I will, on this side is the city, on that the wilderness, and ever I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the wilderness.... I must walk toward Oregon, and not toward Europe."

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Walking" (1862), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, pp. 217-218, Houghton Mifflin (1906).

I took his advice then, and do not regret it now.

Two miles away were Lexington and Concord, and Sudbury Minutemen had shown up for the confrontation on the Lexington green. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau had lived in Concord, and we made the obligatory pilgrimages to their graves, and to Walden ‘Pond’ -- which proved to me that while it took a lot to be a lake or a river in the East, any bump was a mountain. The other end of the proof was seeing the Catskill 'Mountains', in upper New York. I kept asking, 'Are they behind that hill?')

On the other hand, Walden Pond would be Walden Lake anywhere west of the Mississippi, while it takes a lot to be a mountain, and not just a hill. Any seasonally running ditch, out here, is a river. Any pond, filled or not, is a ‘lake.’ Kinda depends on where you live, I guess.

Thoreau also said this:

"Do we call this the land of the free? What is it to be free from King George and continue the slaves of King Prejudice? What is it to be born free and not to live free? What is the value of any political freedom, but as a means to moral freedom? Is it a freedom to be slaves, or a freedom to be free, of which we boast?"

The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, pp. 476-477, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
I remember the Old Manse, which Emerson had lived in, but rented out, for a time, to Hawthorne, and how Hawthorne’s wife had scratched the birth dates of her children into the poured glass panes with her diamond ring. The Wayside Innkeeper’s house had that kind of glass, too, and something called ‘Indian shutters,’ which could be shut to protect the glass windows, but were slit-cut, so that you could fire your musket out the seemingly ‘decorative’ cruciform pattern.

The whole area had been a Henry Ford project sometime earlier in the century, and he had replenished or refurbished several places in the neighborhood, including bringing the famous ‘Little Red Schoolhouse’ to rest in the meadow that the Wayside Inn sits in. Within walking distance was the ‘Grist Mill’ star of innumerable postcards and travel brochures.

We went horseback riding, and there was an old dam Henry had refurbished. There were various grandfathered-in clauses in everyone’s purchase agreement to keep this bit of New England ever-New Englandy.

We stumbled, in Concord, while scouting for a honeymoon spot before the wedding, on a Revolutionary War re-enactment that clogged the city with cars and blocked streets for several hours. One of a thousand such events in Bicentennial New England.

Hell, Sudbury's zip code was 01776 -- which both Lexington AND Concord felt, by rights, should be their own. (I think they were 01774 and 01775 respectively).

And I have always carried that strange echo of the Revolution with me, through these 33 years. The marriage is long gone and all but forgotten, but the wedding remains with me.

It was all very New Englandy, even if Golden Earring’s ‘Radar Love’ was playing on every radio station in every car that I drove that summer.

Oh, and ‘Ricky Don’t Lose That Number,’ by Steely Dan. Mostly I listened to music that I purchased at the local record stores, and that summer, it was King Crimson, beginning with Starless and Bible Black:

Cigarettes, ice cream, figurines
of the Virgin Mary ...

- ‘The Great Deceiver,’ Richard Palmer-James
And, in that spirit, I must tell you what King George’s men have been up to the past several weeks.

P.J. O’Rourke went to Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just down the Boston Post Road from the Innkeeper’s house, and made his fame with the NATIONAL LAMPOON of the 1970s. Since then, he’s crafted a literary career that caters to the Right Wing, and attempts to create ‘humor’ for that famously humorless slice of the American electorate. On Bill Maher’s last REAL TIME show of the ‘season’ (whatever that means anymore) he had on O’Rourke and Ben Affleck without third party guests.

In a nod to Maher’s continuing influentiality, Michael Moore chose Maher for the first interview since 2004 and ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ - the documentary notable for noted American author and dumbass Ray Bradbury thinking that he held copyright to the title, even though he ought to have known that titles can’t be copyrighted, and that he doesn’t even hold copyright to ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (the temperature at which paper burns for a book about book burning). No one knows whether Bradbury also feels that he holds copyright over the combustive phenomenon itself.

O’Rourke is from Toledo, Ohio, and looks like he was the class geek, to be sure, but he DID, in fact receive an education and cannot pretend that he is a dumbass, however convenient that might be in the Republican dumbass circles in which he now moves.

I bring this up only to preempt any suggestion that O’Rourke was unaware of what he was doing, or that he was so unskilled at argumentation that he inadvertently fell into fallacy.

No, friends. He MEANT to do what he did, and, perhaps, that’s also a nod to the influentialitinessitude of Maher’s HBO show.

What O’Rourke did was to INTENTIONALLY derail discussion to derail as much criticism of the Bush regime as possible. And to put as much daylight between himself and the sinking ship as possible -- following the lead of Frank Luntz, as reported here. (‘An Elephant Always Forgets’).

The first and best example of which was Bill Maher bringing up Ron Paul’s comment at the GOP debate (otherwise known as the Macho-Beatchu smarm summit) that our foreign policy had something to do with why people wanted to hijack planes and suicidally attack us ... e.g. 9-11.

O’Rourke seized the bull by the balls and twisted: ‘I can sum it up in one word -- these Ay-rabs all hate Israel ... and WE SUPPORT ISRAEL!’

(reflexive applause).

O’Rourke then tried for a double with: ‘And I FOR ONE THINK THAT SUPPORTING ISRAEL IS A DAMN FINE THING TO DO!’

Well, who the hell is going to argue with that?

Except that O’Rourke had jerked the topic off the table. Now it was going to be about how much do you support Israel, etc. Perfect setup for a gazillion talking points, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

The original point (which Ron Paul appeared to explain himself) was that our actions (like setting up the Shaw in Iran after deposing the democratically elected government in the 1950s, via coup) have consequences. The 'Israel' argument was a red herring, but, worse, an INTENTIONAL red herring.

Maher did manage to get things aimed back at the topic, but not before O’Rourke had revealed his pattern for the evening: distort the dialogue, go for the cheap applause, wrap yourself in the bloody flag (in this case, whichever flag is most convenient, i.e. Israel) and for Gawd’s sake, keep that railroad off the tracks.

I watched the rerun of Jon Stewart’s interview with the Bush Education Texas Chick (think of a less grotesque version of Karen Hughes), and was struck by how much the same tactic was used. There was no intention of engaging in debate. Just get the talking points out there, and ACT like you’re a good sport when they laugh at your ‘Commander Guy’s’ endless litany of screw-ups, foul-ups, bloopers and other capital crimes.

Which means that they hold us in utter contempt, chillun. When you decide to treat your fellow citizens as ribbon clerks, or children to be mollified by shiny objects, it bespeaks your contempt for anything that they have to say -- in advance of their saying it.

And when you cannot debate, sooner or later, the differences of opinion will be settled with the gun and with steel.

I have to answer one of O’Rourke’s many slithery, slipperies here, though.

Bill Maher began to make a point about this ‘War’ not being a war at all, and O’Rourke immediately chimed in with ... like the WAR ON POVERTY of Democrat Lyndon Johnson? Haw! Haw! Haw!

Ben Affleck neatly trumped him with ‘or like the WAR on DRUGS’? and the audience responded with wild applause.

But the damage had already been done: The ‘War on Poverty’ of the Great Society was actually VERY successful, as the Harvard-educated O’Rourke well knows. But he lied to make his point, and it was glossed over, because, frankly, who could possibly expect comedian Bill Maher and actor/screenwriter Ben Affleck to be up on the intricacies of the Johnson Administration, forty years ago? Wikipedia:

... In the decade following the 1964 introduction of the war on poverty, poverty rates in the U.S. dropped to 11.1% and have remained between 11 and 15% ever since. Since 1973 poverty has remained well below the historical U.S. averages in the range of 20-25%.[2]

Poverty among Americans between ages 18-64 has fallen only marginally since 1966, from 10.5% then to 10.1% today. Poverty has significantly fallen among Americans under 18 years old from 23% in 1964 to 16.3% today. The most dramatic decrease in poverty was among Americans over 65, which fell from 28.5% in 1966 to 10.1% today...

The O[ffice of] E[conomic] O[pportunity] was dismantled by President Nixon in 1973, though many of the agency's programs were transferred to other government agencies.
Not quite the laughing stock that the Harvard-educated liar, P.J. O’Rourke, would have you believe.

But that is their intentional modus operandi: twist and distort the truth, because the truth is your enemy. And the people who speak it are your enemies as well. Confuse and deceive them. Now, WHO (or WHAT) does that sound like? A little hint for you and for P.J.:

In the night he's a star in the Milky Way
He's a man of the world by the light of day
A golden smile and a proposition
And the breath of God smells of sweet sedition

Great Deceiver

Sing hymns make love get high fall dead
He'll bring his perfume to your bed
He'll charm your life 'til the cold winds blow
Then he'll sell your dreams to a picture show

Cigarettes, ice cream, figurines of the Virgin Mary
Cigarettes, ice cream, figurines of the Virgin Mary

Cadillacs, blue jeans, dixieland playing on the ferry
Cadillacs, blues jeans, drop a glass full of antique sherry

- ‘The Great Deceiver,’ lyrics by Richard Palmer-James
from the King Crimson album ‘Starless and Bible Black’ 1974
Now, thanks to Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Bush, it’s the ‘War on the Impoverished.’


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Truths Inconvenient

These are actually (if unpopularly in some circles) truths:

That Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative.

That someone above Scooter Libby committed a felony in 'outing' her and that we all pretty much know who.

That it is illegal wiretap without going through the FISA court. Each instance is a separate felony.

That George W. Bush knowingly went ahead with massive illegal wiretapping after the Justice Department refused to "sign off" on it; even after Andrew Card, the White House Chief of Staff -- and former chief lobbyist for the oil industry -- and Alberto Gonzales -- offtimes a stranger to the concept of "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" -- rushed to the hospital bed of John Ashcroft, then Attorney General of the United States, but NOT legally capable of signing off, since his then-deputy, and, acting attorney general, had refused to sign off on domestic wiretapping.

That the mainstream news is not merely an enabler of the 'talking points' outrages told about these events and more, but is an actual COLLABORATOR in these crimes, exempli gratia: Robert Novak.

That we (the Allies) HUNG men convicted at the Nuremberg trials* for having engaged in aggressive war, for having conspired to commit aggressive war, and other counts. On the other hand, the USA is hugely responsible for having enacting into the U.N. Charter the statement that every sovereign nation has the right to defend itself, which means, according to OUR law, that Saddam Hussein had a right to defend Iraq, no matter what you might have thought of Saddam.

[* see]

That Bush & Co. lied knowingly about going into Iraq.

That, having justified the war (and the FIRST Gulf War) because Middle Eastern oil is a matter of National Interest and National Security, our oil is much more insecure than it was prior to the war, when we were choking off Iraq's oil, with the assistance of every nation in the United Nations (some not very sincerely).

That the oil companies are gouging us, just like they gouged us after Katrina, just like they've been gouging us all along. The price of a gallon of gasoline has moved from under two dollars to over four dollars since Nighn-Uh-Lebb'n.

That there is now no rationale for continuing our Occupation of Iraq, except to save the face of several liver-spotted lifelong non-combatants.

That this "war" in Iraq is actually an occupation.

That the Iraqis WANT us to leave.

That anyone in Iraq who wants us to leave is called an "insurgent" or a "terrorist," preferably with "Al Qaeda" mentioned somewhere within the report.

That "terrorist" is whomever the GOP points at.

That the "mainstream media" couldn't find its ass in the dark with a map and flashlight.

That the few poor reporters who still break stories and do INVESTIGATIVE stories -- the Dana Priests, the Seymour Hershes, the Greg Palasts -- are more untouchable by the MSM than NAMBLA.

That despite the phony Wall Street numbers mystically repeated each night, this economy is in bad shape, and it's only getting worse. That the 'reason' given each night for the "Dow"s rise and fall wasn't divined by any means more sophisticated than reading tea leaves, nor any more scientific.

That the United States treasury is being looted -- often by those self-same persons and companies that invested heavily in Bush's alleged 'election' in 2000.

That the 2000 election was, in fact stolen.

That corporate crime and corruption are rampant; that we have seen troops holding M-16s in our airports, and that we still hover dangerously close to an outright police state.

That any protests are hushed up and covered up.

That secret prisons exist throughout the world. That we are openly operating an extraterritorial gulag at Guantanimo Bay, Cuba, and that torture is routinely practiced there.

That habeas corpus is a meaningless concept if one crosses these serpents.

That the alternative media of the internet came along just in the nick of time.

That lying baldfacedly is not merely the modus operandi of this regime, but is so much an unquestioned fact of life within it that any call for actual facts is not merely beneath notice, but that such a query is actively taken as an ill-mannered and rude affront to not only members of the regime, but an active collaboration with Osama Bin Saddam his-very-own-self.

That we Americans seem so stunned by the very magnitude of the criminality involved that we have no idea what to do about it.

That none of the above-mentioned facts must ever be uttered without the term ‘wild conspiracy theory’ immediately preceding or following their utterance, either singly or in combination. And that the room is filling with thousand pound gorillas at such an accelerating rate that we much soon vacate the room, or else be crushed.

That Bush is a tyrant.

And, that, while Virginia did not change its motto from "Sic Semper Tyrannis" after that unfortunate incident with its native son, John Wilkes Booth, and retains the venerable Latin phrase from its adoption in 1776, the sentiment has never been so applicable since as it is now:

Thus Always to Tyrants.


Monday, May 28, 2007

The Slick and the Dead

In 1868, on May 5, General John Logan (from any number of origins, including having been inspired or jealous of the community attention being paid to Confederate graves, the original impetus having remained an historical mystery), proclaimed, as "commander-in-chief" of the Grand Army of the Republic (a fraternal organization of former Union soldiers, sailors, et al), TO the Grand Army of the Republic:

General Orders No.11
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
He added:

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

It was known as "Decoration Day" and stands as the holiday created by the G.A.R. In 1882, the name was changed to "Memorial Day" and honored the deceased from ALL U.S. wars. It wasn't until after World War I that the South* honored their war dead on that same day. (Eventually being included in the holiday, irrespective of what the venerable GAR might have thought.)

[* From the Memorial Day DOT org History page:

... The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Later a Madam Guerin from France was visiting the United States and learned of this new custom started by Ms.Michael and when she returned to France, made artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. This tradition spread to other countries. In 1921, the Franco-American Children's League sold poppies nationally to benefit war orphans of France and Belgium. The League disbanded a year later and Madam Guerin approached the VFW for help. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later their "Buddy" Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948 the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red 3 cent postage stamp with her likeness on it....
Merchant, David M. "Memorial Day" (1994).
http://www.usmemorialday.org/ ]

However, according to Wikipedia:

The alternative name of "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882, but did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967.
Appropriately enough, it was under Nixon, in 1971 that Memorial Day was legally changed to the fourth Monday in May, in order to get a three day weekend.

Wikipedia continues:

On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved four holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The holidays included Washington's Birthday (which evolved into Presidents' Day), Columbus Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971. After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply at the state level, all fifty states adopted the measure within a few years, although Veterans Day was eventually changed back to its traditional date.
Every year since 1998 Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawai'i has introduced legislation to return Memorial Day to May 30. Nothing has yet come of it.

In addition, the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War would like "Decoration Day" back on May 30th. After all, Veterans' Day (originally Armistice Day) was returned to November 11 from its three-day-holiday exile.

The other veterans can be honored, but the three day beer-and-boating, summer movie opening and sales marathon really needs to stop. Decoration Day was originally a day to not only honor the war dead, but to MAINTAIN their gravestones.

Instead, SOME have decided to make it an advertisement for more FRESH gravestones:

Excerpts from Bush's Remarks at Arlington National Cemetery.

Now this hallowed ground receives a new generation of heroes -- men and women who gave their lives in places such as Kabul and Kandahar, Baghdad and Ramadi. Like those who came before them, they did not want war -- but they answered the call when it came. They believed in something larger than themselves. They fought for our country, and our country unites to mourn them as one.

We remember Army Specialist Ross Andrew McGinniss. Ross was born on Flag Day in 1987. When he was in kindergarten, he said he wanted to grow up to be "an Army man." He enlisted at 17 -- the first day he was eligible. He deployed to Iraq. Last December, a grenade was thrown into his Humvee as Ross was patrolling the streets of Baghdad. The soldiers inside could not escape in time, so Ross leapt into the vehicle and covered the grenade with his own body. By sacrificing himself to save four other men, he earned a Silver Star -- and the eternal gratitude of the American people.

We remember Marine Sergeant Marc Golczynski of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Marc volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq. He knew the dangers his service would entail. Before he deployed, he wrote the following in an email to his family and friends: "Please don't feel bad for us. We are warriors, and as warriors have done before us we fight and sometimes die so our families do not have to." Marc left behind an eight-year-old son, Christian, who is with us today; he managed to be brave while he held his father's folded flag...

As before in our history, Americans find ourselves under attack and underestimated. Our enemies long for our retreat. They question our moral purpose. They doubt our strength of will. Yet even after five years of war, our finest citizens continue to answer our enemies with courage and confidence. Hundreds of thousands of patriots still raise their hands to serve their country; tens of thousands who have seen war on the battlefield volunteer to re-enlist. What an amazing country to produce such fine citizens...

We've heard of 174 Marines recently -- almost a quarter of a battalion -- who asked to have their enlistments extended. For these extensions, they would earn no promotion and no promise of a favored posting. They want to serve their nation. And as one of them put it this way: "I'm here so our sons don't have to come and fight here someday."

Those who serve are not fatalists or cynics. They know that one day this war will end -- as all wars do. Our duty is to ensure that its outcome justifies the sacrifices made by those who fought and died in it. From their deaths must come a world where the cruel dreams of tyrants and terrorists are frustrated and foiled -- where our nation is more secure from attack, and where the gift of liberty is secured for millions who have never known it.

This is our country's calling. It's our country's destiny. Americans set off on that voyage more than two centuries ago, confident that this future was within our reach -- even though the shore was distant, and even though the journey may be long. And through generations, our course has been secured by those who wear a uniform, secured by people who man their posts, and do their duty. They have helped us grow stronger with each new sunrise.

On this Day of Memory, we mourn brave citizens who laid their lives down for our freedom. They lived and died as Americans. May we always honor them. May we always embrace them. And may we always be faithful to who they were and what they fought for.

Thank you for having me. May God bless you and may God continue to bless our country.

(Or else.)