Boots & Sabers

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0737, 31 May 22

Purchasing and protecting our liberty

Here is my full column that ran on Saturday in the Washington County Daily News.

Memorial Day is the one day every year we set aside to pause our lives, bow our heads, remember, and thank all of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have given their lives to preserve the cause of freedom. For over 240 years, Americans have fought and died so that we may enjoy the blessings of liberty purchased with their blood.


Last week, my wife and I sailed through Norfolk, the home of the mighty United States Fleet Forces Command. We passed three Nimitz class aircraft carriers, submarines, cruisers, destroyers, and countless other supply and warships built for the purpose of defending freedom throughout the world. Nestled among the great grey ships of war was a single white one. The hospital ship USNS Comfort sat in the shadow of the USS George HW Bush as a reminder that those ships go to war full of Americans and not all of them come home.


We continued up the York River to spend the week in Yorktown, the site of the final armed engagement of the Revolutionary War. In the visitor center, we learned the history and stood under the green flaps of General George Washington’s actual campaign tent. We strolled through the pastoral battlefield still wrought into defensive berms and ditches to shield men from iron, peeked over the siege lines, and tried to imagine the violence of 1781.


Redoubts 9 and 10 stand barely 150 yards apart and it strains the modern mind to think of the brave Americans Alexander Hamilton led with fixed bayonets and unloaded guns up the scarp of redoubt 10, through the palisades, and into the nest of the waiting British. At nearby redoubt 9, our brave French allies had a tougher go, but fought like lions to push the redcoats out of their defensive position. These last two clashes proved to be the final major bloody engagements, save continued bombardment of the British in Yorktown, to secure America’s independence.


At the northern end of the defensive lines, across the street from what was the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Redoubt, lies the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The museum is packed with artifacts from the colonial period and Revolutionary War, including a pair of the Marquis de Lafayette’s pistols, an early Brown Bess musket from 1741, and rare July 1776 broadside of the Declaration of Independence. A walk outside finds a living history showcase of a Revolutionary War camp and colonial farm.


It is difficult to view such things without being filled with appreciation for the liberties we enjoy, and the sacrifice made by so many Americans to secure those liberties. It is also difficult to not think of the millions of Americans who stand watch today willing to give all of their tomorrows to secure the blessings of today.


Such sacrifices by the dead impose responsibilities on the living. One of the admonishments made throughout the museum is that the siege of Yorktown was not the end of the revolution, but the beginning. The liberties won with bullet and blade must be preserved and expanded with voice and vote.


With the smell of liberty still filling my nostrils, I reflect with remorse on how easily too many of us give up the liberties secured for us by the precious blood of so many Americans. Too often we are unwilling to endure even discomfort or incur offense for the sake of liberty even though it is a small price compared to the price paid by so many others.


We must use our voices and votes to preserve our liberty on every front. When we read or hear things that cause offense or discomfort, we must respond with robust debate and not resort to using the power of government or technology to silence those with whom we disagree. We must return to the national ethic that we may disagree, but we will defend to the death each other’s right to speak freely.


When evil people commit violence, we must not react by restricting the civil rights of Americans to keep and bear arms. The story of mankind is the story of the conflict between the individual yearning for liberty and the collective power of authority to crush it. An armed citizen is the last and best defense against the tyranny of government whether they wear coats of red or blue.


We must ensure that every American citizen can cast their vote. Government without consent of the governed is illegitimate and innately tyrannical. Securing the right to vote also means ensuring that every vote cast is legitimate and counted.


And so with every natural right, we Americans must first seek to protect those rights from people who mean to restrict them. Our overriding bias in public discourse and public policy must be on the side of more freedom — not less. Yes, a free society is messy, but it is far preferable to orderly oppression. The price we pay for our liberty is vigilance, discomfort, frustration, anger, and compromise, but it is far less costly than the blood of heroes. Rights surrendered with ink are often only recovered with blood.


This Memorial Day, we remember and thank those Americans who paid the ultimate price for our liberty. May their sacrifice weigh heavy on our hearts and give us strength to protect the liberties their sacrifice secured.



0737, 31 May 2022


  1. Merlin

    Get a chance to wander around the Wisconsin?

  2. Owen

    I did not, but my wife did. I got some pictures of it while passing :)

  3. Merlin

    Great bucket list material. Every sailor should wander a BB and a CVN at least once.

  4. Jason

    Don’t look north of Wisconsin then…. no more liberties and self defense there!

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