I watched the ceremonial folding of the American flag as a lone bugler played taps in the distance. A member of the honor guard took a knee in front of my 90-year-old mother-in-law and softly said to her:
“On behalf of the United States Army, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service to our country.”
And in spite of how cynical I can be at times, the service brought me to tears.
Now, as I write this, I’m sitting in a room looking out from the 25th Floor of the Madison Hotel in Seattle, Washington. The view from here is peaceful. The busy roads and bustling people seem surreal; the city below is full of movement without noise. As often happens after a funeral, my mind is focused on the bigger issues of life.
My father-in-law was part of the “greatest generation,” born in the early 1920s. His teenage and young adult years were spent during the Great Depression and World War II. In the War, he served under General MacArthur during the occupation of Japan. Along with his wife, he raised his four daughters. In the 1980s, he retired after working for 30 years as a corporate man.
My father-in-law’s generation, which included so many memorable leaders, left a legacy of wealth, stability, a strong currency, and unchallenged American dominance in the world. They defeated Hitler and turned around and fought a 50-year cold war with the Soviets. In the end, they gave us a huge peace dividend. It wasn’t without problems, but our country was sound.
Now, as I watch the ribbon of cars on the road below my window, I struggle to understand the changes we’ve seen since this generation left America’s leadership. Since the 1980s – under Democrats and Republicans alike – we’ve seen a great unraveling.
What Would Our Founders Think?
When my father-in-law went off to World War II, he was sworn in with a simple oath. This oath was approved by an Act of Congress on September 29, 1789 and applied to all commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates in the service of the United States. It read, in part: “I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”
My father-in-law is one of millions who have fought for the U.S. Constitution. But in spite of their sacrifices, the U.S. Constitution is now under assault from a corrupt and selfish political establishment. They see the Constitution as a roadblock on their quest for absolute, dictatorial powers.
This Fourth of July, as we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and our break from Britain in 1776, we should recognize that our current government has more power than King George III could’ve possibly imagined.
This government routinely searches your bags when you travel. They access your financial records, credit card history, and bank statements. They can track your movements via your car’s GPS system or your mobile phone’s signal. They routinely break down doors and search homes without knocking or asking for permission. Soon, they will have total access to your medical records. And if you are over 65, they have the right to deny you medical care.
I respect and admire the America of the Founders and my forebears. But on this Fourth of July, I’m bewildered by my fellow Americans who allow their government to fleece them, abuse them, track them, and catalogue them. A sinister change has come to our great nation, but it’s barely even noticed.
I hope I am wrong, but it seems that freedom is just a forgotten way of life in America.
This article originally appeared at CapitolHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.
Photo credit: CR Artist (Creative Commons)