In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. (Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961)
My grandmother's family was wiped out in WWII. My grandmother and her sister managed to survive The Holocaust, as did a few cousins. I am actually rather close to a second cousin, who spent a number of his formative years growing up in Theresienstadt. I take the sacrifices made by men and women in WWII very seriously. I also take the responsibilities I inherited with the freedoms that they helped buy for me, and my generation, very seriously.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. - Ronald Reagan.
In fact, it was my disgust at the apathy I was observing all around me, and the increasing encroachment of our freedoms that initiated my commitment to starting and maintaining this blog.
This Remembrance Day, spend a few minutes in silent thanks to those who sacrificed for your freedoms, and in respect for them and future generations, think about how you can fight to maintain these freedoms. Here's a few suggestions:
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Vote, every chance you get. People literally died to provide you with the right to elect a representative government. Our system isn't perfect. There are lots of flaws. The first step to improving it is to do a little research on the issues, and vote.
2. Consider getting involved in government on some level. You don't have to run for Prime Minister (although that is an option). Local governments and municipal elections can greatly effect the lives of constituents.
3. Speak up! When you hear racist, sexist, etc. remarks, DO NOT REMAIN SILENT. This is one of the first and basic steps to safeguarding everyone's freedom.
4. Understand that freedom of speech has to be extended to all. The price of freedom, and the first missed step in 'the slippery slope', is often neglecting to accord rights to those who have different ideas or lifestyles than you do.
5. Learn about history. Learn about warning signs. Think critically. Be a good citizen and watchful for abuse. (A great starting point is Eisenhower's speech, linked with the first quote in this blog.)
6. If you have kids, teach them to stand up for the right thing (which is ever-more-frequently the most difficult choice these days). Teach them that one does the right thing not for reward or fame, but simply because it is the right thing.
7. If you have kids, teach them about history.
8. Find a good charity that you feel good about supporting, one that either fights for freedom or educates others (one of mine is The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre). Support it with time or money (or both).
9. Spend some time on November 9 remembering Kristallnacht. If you don't know what Kristallnacht refers to, then click on the link and take a few minutes. If you have kids, this is an excellent opportunity to teach them about how freedom is taken in small increments, about how standing up for others benefits all of society.
10. ...and for something a little more fun, click here for one of the best songs about freedom that I know.