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Take up America’s Torch

By Which We Remember December 7 and September 11

By Sally Morem

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow


Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: And in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below.

We are the dead.


Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe,


To you from failing hands we throw
The Torch—be yours to hold it high;
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ fields.

Canadian Colonel John McCrae left us with this eloquent plea for the
defense of the free West, a very appropriate thing to ponder on the
anniversaries of Pearl Harbor and the attacks on New York and Washington,
DC. His poem, In Flanders’ Fields, depicted an image of cemeteries filled
dead Canadians, Englishmen, Frenchmen and Americans, buried under the
battlegrounds of World War I in Europe. The spirits of these dead ask us in
the poem to continue their brave efforts to defend freedom from the
depredations of tyranny. Perhaps they knew that the ‘war to end all wars’
wouldn’t.
Americans did what had to be done. After the sudden blows our forces
suffered in Hawaii and those we suffered later in the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon, we regrouped, struggled, and finally triumphed.

But, there are those who believe that Flanders’ Field was and is too high a
price to pay for freedom. They feel that peace should be our only concern.
Pacifists fear the results of war far more than the devastating effects
surrender would have on us. They don’t realize that appeasement to the
Kaisers, the Hitlers, the Tojos, the Stalins, and the bin Ladens would never
bring peace, but would instead lead to waves of future wars, endless wars of
oppression conducted by power-hungry tyrants, egged on by the weakness
displayed by their pacifist enemies.

The dictionary defines the pacifist as one who is in opposition to war or


violence as a means of settling disputes and who specifically refuses to bear
arms on moral or religious grounds. By so doing, he hopes to bring about a
permanent peace.

Unfortunately, this could never happen through unilateral disarmament. If a


pacific society were somehow established, its internal order would soon
break down under the pressure of criminal acts and outside aggression.
Pacifism is therefore an unstable strategy for any society to undertake. It, by
definition, cannot cope with violent domestic or foreign acts. Survivors
would have to cease acting as pacifists in short order. Or there would be no
survivors left to sweep up the shrapnel and put out the fires.

But, how can we preserve freedom and yet avoid future Flanders’ fields?
Perhaps we can’t. The military option is simply too attractive to too many
people. A show of force really works. People see the guns, the tanks, the
battleships, the bombers, and the soldiers…then they do what they are told
to do. They surrender. They give their conquerors anything they demand.

In any effort to ease the danger of war, certain facts of life must be attended
to. The first thing we must realize is that this world is filled with billions of
people who organize themselves into millions of groups, instantiating at
least as many differing dreams and goals and ideals. Not all of these groups
co-exist peaceably nor do they all conduct their affairs in an honorable
manner. In such a situation, conflict becomes unavoidable.
Any proposal for the demilitarization of the world must come to grips with
the harsh reality of human nature reflected in the operation of human
leadership of groups: There will always be leaders who will lie, cheat,
scheme, and murder to get their own way within their group and against
other groups. They will not be dissuaded by sweet talk of human love and
brotherhood.

Secondly, we must remember that human beings are just as capable of


cooperating with one another as they are of fighting. We see this every day
in peace as our armies and police keep the bad guys at bay, permitting us to
trade and associate in friendship, without threats or coercion.

Ironically enough, war itself illustrates the power of human cooperation.


While soldiers fight enemy soldiers on the battlefield, they also obey their
superior officers, protect one another, move the wounded to safety, and
move supplies to the front in an orderly fashion. War is organized conflict,
with emphasis on the adjective organized. We see the human capacity for
both beastliness and heroism magnified on the battlefield. Perhaps this is
why some of our most powerful stories are war stories.

The talent for cooperation is inherently human. Parents love, nurture and
protect their children. Business associates work together for their mutual
profit. People risk their lives to save others from the perils of fire and storm.
Any truly robust human culture dedicated to the preservation of peace must
allow human cooperation to flower naturally; it must not be forced.
Cooperation is inherently a voluntary act. A dictatorship enforcing
cooperation would be (and is) as counterproductive as a pacifist society
attempting to enforce peace.

From these two points we can deduce the following with reasonable
certainty: There can be no peace without freedom. Ever. Freedom is the
stuff of peace. Why? Because freedom is the stuff of a truly human life.

Cooperation may flourish in many different types of societies and conflict


may be bent to more positive ends through the workings of ancient
traditions, but only in societies where individual rights and responsibilities
are recognized as inviolable can such societies achieve a high level of trust
between large numbers of people, most of whom will never meet one
another. Freedom, then, has the capacity to engender a level of trust at least
high enough to ease ever-present tensions in very populous societies.
Freedom allows individuals to combine and covenant among themselves
without resort to force or threats of force. No gun to the head nor midnight
knock on the door required. Freedom also permits people to leave that
which they’ve created at any time. The “escape clause” of freedom
encourages both the free flow of commerce and of information and ideas
throughout the world as individuals enter and leave at will.

And by so doing, freedom discourages wars between free peoples. Free


peoples don’t fight one another. They don’t even threaten to fight one
another. Considering the history of armed conflict over the millennia, this is
a highly unusual and desirable situation to be in. If we would truly have
peace among the nations, freedom must be the means of its realization. It’s
the only thing that has ever been found by historians to have such a strong
dampening effect on war.

Albert Einstein was wrong when he said, “The first problem is to do away
with mutual fear and distrust.” These emotions cannot be waved away with
the magic wand of pacifism. The first problem is to do away with systems
and cultures of coercion. And this can only be done by guiding
inexperienced peoples through the process of creating societies of
freedom…all over the world. Maintaining the tender plants of newly
established free societies is a tricky task, but many peoples have already
succeeded in doing so in Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Free America has been a powerful force for peace in the last few decades.
But, it didn’t achieve the stability of the West through the use of lethal force.
It never threatened its allies with the use of tanks and troops if they didn’t
obey American orders. It led its allies by offering its own great strength as a
shield against a common enemy.

It has been said by history commentators that if the two great nuclear powers
who had emerged out of World War II into the Cold War had been
totalitarian, say, Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, all of humanity
would’ve been wiped out in a nuclear world war long ago. We only have to
remember what happened when Hitler betrayed the Hitler-Stalin Pact to get
an idea of the truth of this assertion. Thankfully, one of the two
superpowers had been in reality a true democratic republic. America had
been strong enough to enable the West to remain free long enough to outlast
an aggressive, and then a crumbling Soviet Empire.
Let’s consider an alternate historical possibility. If the two superpowers
emerging from the flames of World War II had both been free societies, they
never would have posed a nuclear threat to each other or the world. Wars do
not come about simply by the presence of dangerous weaponry; wars grow
out of the enmity of enemies.

We now have enough experience with a number of paired democratic states


sharing borders to know that they never put their forces on alert against one
another, let alone fire on one another in anger. Americans don’t fear British
or French nukes…with good reason. Our two imaginary democratic
superpowers would’ve acted towards each other much like post-war
Germany, Japan and America had—with peaceable trade and cultural
exchanges instead of ICBMs aimed at one another’s cities.

With all this in mind, America’s duty is clear. We must continue to foster
the development of free societies around the world. We must continue to
protect and defend ourselves and the free world from would-be oppressors.
Sneak attacks on America must never be permitted to happen again. When
we choose to be free, we give America’s Answer, written by R. W. Lillard,
to those who had given their lives for us nearly a century ago:

Rest in peace, ye Flanders dead,


The fight that ye so bravely led
We’ve taken up. And we will keep
True faith with you who lie asleep,
With each a cross to mark his bed,
Where once his own life-blood ran red.
So let your rest be sweet and deep

In Flanders’ field.

Fear not that ye have died for naught,


The Torch ye threw to us we caught,
Ten million hands will hold it high,
And Freedom’s light shall never die!
We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught

In Flanders’ field.