Being Patriotic on Memorial Day

As a millennial, I have not known a day in my adult life where America was not at war.

At the core of our identity as Americans is the understanding that defending liberty involves vigilance. When tyranny comes to our doorsteps, we must be prepared to fight it, risking our lives if necessary. None knew this better than America's first patriots, those who signed onto the Declaration of Independence, declaring their intent to take up arms against a distant government to reclaim their inalienable rights to self-govern.

As we progressed in American history, wars became less and less about defending against immediate threats of tyranny, and more about expanding the international power of the United States. The biggest breaking point for the American people was the Vietnam War, where we found ourselves drafting a generation to fight a distant, gruesome war without a clear purpose. After that war, Congress adopted a law called the War Powers Resolution, attempting to end what had become a series of undeclared wars in violation of the Constitution that the first patriots had died to establish. The United States had not declared war since World War II and still has not.

We have seen in both parties a presidential lawlessness, ignored this limit on war powers for over 15 years. This lawlessness has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans in over half a dozen countries that we are now at war in. The use of the military to defend freedom has shifted to the use of the military to advance the agendas of new tyrants.

As we remember those who bravely served and died in protection of our freedoms, we should reflect on how to honor that sacrifice. At the front of my own mind when I made the choice to join the Libertarian Party was a desire to not see my daughter and her generation be sacrificed in wars that would not defend freedom.

We can honor our fallen veterans by being patriots. It honors them to use our rights to challenge large, distant, tyrannical governance, and to protect and expand the freedoms recognized in the Constitution, in word and spirit. We should demand to end the disrespect for our military veterans and service members by sending them to fight wars that do not advance this cause.

It is no wonder that both many leaders in our party today - like former LPKC chair and candidate Paul Addis, current candidate Richard Reyes, and board member Johnny Adams, to name a few - are themselves veterans who are returning to continue fighting for freedom on the home front. Multiple times this year I have had veterans contact us to volunteer, and they say "I know it seems odd that someone in the military would join the Libertarian Party." But quite the contrary, those who understand the cost of war in blood and treasure, in my experience, are the most likely to fight to end it.

For me, this means working hard to build a party that sees the immediate protection of freedom as the only legitimate use of violence. Both of the old parties believe strongly in the use of violence for all matters of political ends, be it as a foreign policy tool for projecting the power of an American empire, be it to enforce state-granted monopolies in businesses, or to extort money to pay for the former and other projects. They disrespect those who give their lives for freedom by twisting the notion of patriotism to mean pro-tyranny instead of pro-liberty.

The Libertarian Party is the only party that both protects and celebrates the right for patriots to take up arms and defend freedom, while also rejecting the use of lawless military power to impose tyranny in defiance of the Constitution. So this Memorial Day, I encourage you to join me in honoring those who have made the greatest sacrifice this year by making sure it is not in vain. Help us bring our troops home alive and unharmed, and help them carry the burden of defending freedom by boldly fighting for the freedoms to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that America's patriots have always fought for.

- David Johnson, LPKC Chair