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Imagining the world without America's sacrifices

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: May 26, 2008 12:51 a.m.
Updated: July 27, 2008 5:02 a.m.
It is truly a wonderful life we lead in the Santa Clarita Valley and in this great country of ours! We are blessed with an abundance of resources and an ample array of individual freedoms to take advantage of those resources as the spirit moves us. That we take such a notion for granted is a tribute to the individuals who secured such freedoms for us - the American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. It is fitting that we set aside this day, Memorial Day, to honor their sacrifices.

In the Frank Capra movie "It's a Wonderful Life," the lead character, George Bailey, is saved from a bout of deep depression when an angel appears and shows George what life would have been like had he never existed. A happy ending is achieved when George sees that the contented community in which he lived would not have been so had he not been around to influence his friends and neighbors in a positive way.

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the contributions of our brave military men and women, and to honor their memory, is to imagine the condition of the world today had they never lived. For starters, America as we know it would not even exist. We might be living in the pueblo of Santa Clarita, a small undeveloped area of Mexico that would extend all the way to what we now know as the Oregon border. The central part of the country from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border would be the Louisiana Province of France, and the entire eastern seaboard would be New England, a colony of Great Britain!

Without a strong and independent America, the free countries of Europe would not have survived WWI or WWII. Today, all of Europe, Scandinavia, most of Africa, and Russia, too, would exist under the dominance of facist Nazism. Without a strong and independent America, the entire Pacific Rim would be under Japanese rule with areas like Manchuria, Korea and the Philippines reduced to mere colonies with resources to be exploited for the benefit of a militaristic imperial government.

Fortunately for the world, the nightmarish scenarios described above have been avoided because of the will of the American people to promote freedom. These freedoms were supported by a legion of warrior heroes who were willing to make extreme sacrifices in pursuit of such a worthy cause, which is why we must honor them today. Some critics may be reluctant to do so, fearing such actions merely glorify war. I refer them to the words of John Stuart Mill, British philosopher and Member of Parliament in the 19th century: "War is an ugly thing, but it is not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse..."

The abhorrence of war in the abstract is easy to understand. In WWII alone, American deaths numbered nearly 420,000. Contrast that with the tens of millions who perished as victims of the Axis Powers, including some 6,000,000 in the Nazi Holocaust. On the other side of the ledger, today nearly one billion people are enjoying personal freedoms in areas that might otherwise have been dominated by the Axis Powers. As ugly as war is, the subjugation of a free human spirit is considered even more despicable by most people of sense and character.

Today, our military members continue to make the world a safer and better place by removing fetters from people who yearn to be free. A media poll in Iraq indicates some remarkable results. Despite the daily violence there, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well; average household incomes have soared, with 70 percent of Iraqis rating their economic situation positively, and consumer goods are sweeping the country. Moreover, young girls are entitled to a public education, something denied them under the restrictive regime of Saddam Hussein.

Yes, Santa Claritans, it is a wonderful life - and it is getting better for us and others in the world because of the blood, courage, and conviction of a number of American warriors who have made it so.

In their memory, consider how the world might be today had it not been for their sacrifices. Then, in their honor, remember to thank a uniformed member and their families for securing the wonderful lives we have - right here, right now!

Bill Kennedy lives in Valencia and is a principal in Wingspan Business Consulting. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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