These are difficult days in the United States for tens of millions of Americans. I am among the multitudes who are struggling, yet I still recognize how blessed I am to live in this great nation.
The freedom we enjoy, the liberties we too often take for granted, were achieved at a heavy cost in terms of blood and treasure. If I could wish one thing for our young people, it would be that they be aware and appreciative of how fortunate they are NOT to live under tyranny. May they fully realize our liberty and way of life is the exception, not the rule, in the course of human events (to use Jefferson's words). We are far more fortunate than most people who have ever walked the earth in terms of our standard of living and key freedoms -- of speech, religion, press and assembly, not to mention many other precious rights such as the right to bear arms.
Today we remember the greatness of those who gave their lives for that freedom. The greatness of their character, maturity, determination and sacrifice. We remember the suffering and dying, certainly. But we also recall with deep gratitude what these honorable citizens gave up for our sake: Family, security, safety, the warmth and comforts of home.
On Memorial Day 2014, untold numbers of Americans face daunting prospects in an awful job market and stagnant economy. Foreclosures, bankruptcies, crushing debt and despair are all too common. People who never would have dreamed of applying for food stamps or housing assistance are doing so. Many others lean on family members and relatives for help, hoping mightily that the idiots in Washington, D.C., will one day get a clue and do something useful before it's too late.
But the core elements of America -- liberty and individual autonomy, and all of the fruitful endeavors that result -- remain intact. Our institutions and government are often corrupt and dysfunctional, but the foundation has not been shaken. For that we can thank the hundreds of thousands of members of our armed forces who have served selflessly since the founding of our nation.
On this Memorial Day, as ever, we remember greatness, as exemplified by service and sacrifice.