Lately, I’ve been ashamed of my country, my countrymen and especially, our city. The recent and duplicitous standard of allowing a law enforcement Memorial Day Parade and not a Veterans Memorial Day Parade are in question by many. In addition – they allow protestors to come to Duluth by the City and NAACP with zero enforcement of Corona Virus guidelines or consideration of potential violence. I agree with peaceful protests and it’s something I served to preserve. What happened to George Floyd is truly a human tragedy and will be the subject of my next opinion along with leadership.
Now – I will be the first to get in line to defend our law enforcement. I consider all of them as local heroes, and many friends, because they truly are the thin line between anarchy and civility. What’s really in question by me – and others – is that local police brought in 31 different area law enforcement agencies to participate in their parade. I was under the impression that we were not to travel and to keep local if possible. The State Patrol has on its signage, “Limit Travel,” on our freeway system. Again – hypocritical. Why couldn’t the veteran’s community be given the same guidelines to follow as law enforcement or a protest? That’s the question that must be answered by the city.
Nearly all veterans who served their country did so because they believed in our Republic, loved their families, loved their communities and believed in the Constitution and its Bill of RIGHTS. There is NO personal gain in military service. Hell – you might get shot at, you’re underpaid, you fall under double jeopardy,divorce rates are higher than normal, early death from stress, PTSD, increased suicide risks and the list is endless for reasons not to join. However – the benefits far outweigh the negatives. My point is that there is selfless service, love and sacrifice for our country and our countrymen.
Our country is not always correct in its actions, even Steven Decatur stated, “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be right; but our country, right or wrong.” I can personally say that I disagree with many of our government’s decisions, especially when it comes to war, but I trust they have much more information and make the best decisions available based on good data.
For those who do not believe in a strong military as a deterrent in the world, I would say you are foolish. As an example- I recently read that between 1500 BC and 850 AD there were over 7,500 peace agreements within that period of world history; none lasted more than two years. We do not even need to look at the chaos with the world situation, just look at what’s going on in the United States of America. Today – we should be considered the Ununited States of America with the actions, behaviors and venom spewed by many of our country’s political leadership and our citizenry.
I would also mention that the state the human condition never changes! We will always have wars and the terrible cancers of society such as bigotry, prejudice, hatred… People of faith believe in sin, evolutionists believe we are animals, neither are compatible for a utopic society – EVER! Long term peace will never exist.
I cannot emphasize enough how hurt that the majority of veterans are locally by not being able to have a parade to honor our fallen. You see – Memorial Day is a twofold event for us. In the morning when we lower the flag to half-staff, we mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters, we remember their families and all they sacrificed for us. In the afternoon, when we raise the flag to full staff, we celebrate the gift of liberty, our Republic…by having parades and cook outs.
They gave up all of their tomorrows for our todays. They gave that last full measure and are the foundation of our Republic. Some of us who have borne the crucible of combat have seen the absolute worst of humanity. Our fallen have left this world seeing man killing man. They did not get to say goodbye, come back to their loved ones, go back to school or earn meaningful employment, they did not have families, grandchildren, great-grandchildren…THEY DIED! They died for their brothers and their countries interests.
The City of Duluth took a piece of our hearts this year by not allowing us to celebrate the over 1.3 million men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. For me personally – 8 men died and the memories I have will haunt me until I take my last breath on earth.The city, at a minimum, owes its veterans community a heartfelt public apology.
FYI – your Duluth Honor Guard attended all local and state cemeteries with scripts and honors. They would have to imprison me to stop that because “Every day is Memorial Day!”
John W. Marshall
Captain- Duluth Honor Guard
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