Memorial Day essay – Ernie Fazio

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We celebrate Memorial Day and thank the many thousands of men and women that have given so much for the preservation of this great nation.

 

There is a magic of America, and it is worth fighting for. America is not a great country because it produces more goods and services than other countries. America is not great because of its great resources and wealth. America is not great because it has the largest, best equipped, and best trained military in the world. America is great because we cherish ideas that set us free.

 

 The idea that we can have the right to speak our minds without fear of the state. The idea that we can worship as we please or not at all, and allow everyone else to do the same. The idea that the press can write about the failings of the society and particularly the government, without fear of being closed down, or worse, being jailed. These are important concepts, beliefs and rights, without which we are just another set of national boundaries.

 

Forty years ago I had an extended stay in a hospital in New York. I used the time to read among, other things “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” Germany was a developed democracy prior to the Nazis. The rights and liberties of that country were usurped incrementally. After a time it became dangerous to be critical of the government. Any critisism of the policies of government were considered a sign of disloyalty. In the early days of Hitler’s governing, when people complained, they were told to “eat your sausages”. In other words, not long ago you were starving, now you can eat, so shut-up. Most of the population seemed to be in agreement. Eventually their equivalent of Congress was dismissed. The control of Germany was now completely in the hands of the Nazis, and we know how well that turned out.

 

There are people today who are saying to our critics the equivalent of “eat your sausages.” and some of them are my friends, but they are wrong. I have always taken the attitude that the situation we find ourselves in from time to time needs adjustment, but because we have a free press and free speech, we will be alerted before it is too late to react.

 

Now we are seeing full frontal assault on the press. The press, who we love to condemn, has always been the institution that comes up with the debate. Not always the truth, but without the free press, we will never get the truth. The Attorney General wants to prosecute the press for disclosing the secret prison systems we have created in foreign countries. He wants to prosecute the leaker(s) who told of the illegal domestic spying. It is interesting to note that he is not interested in prosecuting the illegal actions of the government, but only the people who told the story. This is dangerous in my opinion, and we must come to the aid of the free press.

 

Are we in danger of losing our cherished liberties? I don’t think so. We will discard this group of incompetent leaders and, sadly, we will see more chicanery in the future. The nation will survive because we eventually right the wrongs. The incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, the attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court under FDR, the excesses of Richard Nixon, all did much harm, and these events were embarrassments for this great county, but we survived. We have had scandals and power grabs many times during our interesting and inspiring history. We will again right the boat, but it takes our interest and input.

 

The trick is, keeping your eye on the ball. Pay attention, shed light on what is going on, and the roaches will crawl back into the woodwork.

Ernie Fazio

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