I have good memories of the American Legion. The organization's activities for young people played a pivotal role in the direction of my life. In High School I participated in both the Legion's National Oratorical Contest, and its Boys State and Boys Nation programs. Those experiences helped to cement my interest in America's political institutions, and what it takes to preserve our liberty. To my mind, the Legion has always represented the patriotic veteran's insight that the defense of this country doesn't begin or end on the battlefield, but in the conscience, heart and spirit of each new generation of Americans. The Legionnaires I met as a High School student had a commitment to the strength and survival of America that didn't end when they left military service. It continued throughout their lives, as they supported and participated in activities that would kindle a love of country in young people, not just as a feeling but as a solidly grounded understanding of liberty and how to be the responsible, active citizens needed to make it work.
Given this background it caught my attention the other day when I read a report that "The commander of the American Legion emerged from a meeting with [alleged] President Obama "angered" at Obama's insistence on generating revenue from those who sacrificed for American security." Apparently, the Obama faction is moving forward with plans "to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries." Commander David K. Rehbein went on to say that "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it." Ending assured U.S. government funded care for preexisting service related injuries will make it more difficult for veterans to secure and keep health coverage. An odd result coming from the man promising universal health care to everyone.
Some naive Americans, still blinded by partisan passion or racial allegiance, may be surprise at this banal disregard for the nation's obligations to its military veterans. But though, for political gain, Obama has tried to mantle himself with the aura of Lincoln's mighty reputation as leader and emancipator, he has nothing of the moral heart that Lincoln expressed when he urged a war weary nation "to strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan…" No, here again he ruthlessly applies the logic that serves his purposes, without regard for moral consequences. Of course, he behaved this way in the Illinois Senate when the ruthless logic of his fanatical support for abortion led him to oppose ending the abominably immoral practice of leaving infant babies who survived unsuccessful abortion attempts to languish without medical care on dirty linen carts, until they died. I guess health care is to be assured to all except those whose lives interfere with his other priorities. (An exception that may include his faction's critics and political opponents before he's done.)
Apparently Obama has no sense of the special debt the nation owes to those who answer its call to arms. He has no sense at all of the need to encourage that answer now and in every generation, by making it clear that as a nation we will stand by those who are weakened, maimed and wounded, not just until their service ends, but until God calls an end to the lives that they have laid on the line for our good. Sadly, this is the mindset we should expect from someone so fascinated with the Marxist ideology, which has again and again produced heartless leaders who believe that people exist to serve the state, or the administrative whims of Party dictators.
In this context his call for mandatory national service takes on an ominous aspect it might otherwise not have. It's one thing to ask free people to give service to a nation that respects their willing acceptance of their duty. It's another to demand that it be given without respect for the character they show, and the sacrifices they have to endure. Such respect is the token of our understanding that when free men and women do their duty, they show character not submission. It is the token that we know as Lincoln did, that their wounds are the nation's wounds, to be cared for from the common store not only of our goods, but of our love of liberty and country.
Whatever its superficial budgetary benefits, the Obama faction's proposal is an outrage. If there are still Americans who see our military people as something more than instruments of policy- who remember that they are our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, brothers, sisters and friends- they should seek and find a way to let their feelings be known. Congress will have a say in this, so let your representatives know what you think. Some issues are about money. Some are about the decent pride and self-respect that free people value more than money. The way we treat our veterans tells the world whether America still has or deserves either one.
By the way, this is just one more confirmation of the fact that the Obama faction's vision for this country seems utterly devoid of the qualities of heart and spirit associated with our heritage of freedom. We should beware, since they are also associated with its preservation. People who care about that had better wake up or it may soon be lost forever.
[Update: Readers will not the following exchange from the comments to this post:
Except that unlike President Bush, President Obama is actually willing to listen to people. According to the Washington Post, he has abandoned this scheme. http://is.gd/nWLW
Alan Keyes said...
What I find most interesting, as I said in my post, is what this episode tells us about his moral ideas, or lack thereof. He simply does what's expedient-probing with bayonets, as Lenin said. When he meets opposition he backs off. It's the chosen direction that reveals the truth, however, not the calculated retreat.
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