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Memorial Day: Why They Died

It is a complicated world. Those that have died have earned our consideration.

Burial Service Held For Missing Korean War Soldier At Arlington Cemetery Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Today is Memorial Day.

I will not say "happy Memorial Day."

Today is rather a Memorial Day observance - a cultural expression of thanks for the lives we lead in the First World, of the anachronistic throwback of nationalism, of the memory of those that have lived -- and then died -- protecting and promoting the actual freedoms of us and others abroad, as well as protecting and promoting the interests of the United States: those natural, cultural, and political resources that permit us in this nation, and others in the West, to have the standard of living expected and required as the longest enduring post-Enlightenment Constitutional Republic.

What have those men and women died for: expansion and dominion of the continent, water, oil, trade passages, a safer hemispherical neighborhood, the lives of Guatamelans, Koreans, Filipinos, Californians, Czechs, Michiganders, Alabamians, Ukrainian Jews, Belgian farmers, Korean free elections, a Middle East free of nuclear proliferation, a Central Asia free of Jihadist pogroms, the Declaration of Independence, our territorial sovereignty, the right to sleep free of British soldiers taking our homes and beds and wives and daughters, the right to govern ourselves as free people, the right to enter into contracts, the right to be free from state religions, the right of minority populations to be protected by the due process of law, the equal application those laws, the rights of dozens of peoples and a hundred nations to live as free men.

The rule of law.

Memorial Day need not be couched in terms as simple as "us vs. them," nor as myopic as needing a villain to promote our interests as the most diverse, pluralistic democracy on the planet.

Violence takes many forms: punitive, corrective, deterrent, instrumental. And, yes, voluntarily agreed upon or not, it also takes the lives of those who have served.

This is their day. Think long and hard; think broadly; think globally over this nation's 400 year origins and nascent beginnings. Why did they serve? Why did they die? If you enjoy an iPhone, if you can travel freely abroad - safe in the knowledge that the full might of the United States and the world's largest military and economy and diplomacy will vouchsafe you - if you can leave a comment below, critical or otherwise, then thank the dead.

They have earned it.

This is who we are. This is what we do. This is why they fought; this is why they died.