A Letter to President Trump Concerning RED China

 

Dear President Trump,

Over America’s exceptional history, successive generations have risen to the challenge of protecting and furthering our founding principles, and defeating existential threats to our liberties and those of our allies. Today, our generation is challenged to do the same by a virulent and increasingly dangerous threat to human freedoms – the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through the nation it misrules:  the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The Chinese Communists’ stated ambitions are antithetical to America’s strategic interests, and the PRC is increasingly taking actions that imperil the United States and our allies. The past forty years during which America pursued an open policy of “engagement” with the PRC have contributed materially to the incremental erosion of U.S. national security.

This cannot be permitted to continue.

China is not as we wish it to be. In our political system, politics is the norm, and war is the exception. It is explicitly the opposite in the PRC’s worldview. Going forward, we must better understand and deal with this dangerous asymmetry.

We the undersigned, are encouraged by the broad and coherent strategy of robust, alternative policies you have adopted to confront the PRC’s campaign to undermine the national interests of the United States and its allies. We encourage you to stay the course on your path of countering Communist China.

We acknowledge and support your robust National Security Strategy that properly sets forth why the United States must counter the PRC. Opposing the advance of tyranny is fully in keeping with the founding principles of America and our rich heritage of defending freedom and liberty, both at home and, where necessary, abroad.

We note the PRC does not recognize the principles and rules of the existing international order, which under a Pax Americana has enabled the greatest period of peace and global prosperity in mankind’s history. The PRC rejects this order both ideologically and in practice. China’s rulers openly proclaim and insist on a new set of rules to which other nations must conform, such as their efforts to dominate the East and South China Seas and the so-called “Belt and Road Initiative,” with its debt-trap diplomacy, designed to extend such hegemony worldwide. The only persistently defining principle of the CCP is the sustainment and expansion of its power.

Over the past forty years of Sino-American relations, many American foreign policy experts did not accurately assess the PRC’s intentions or attributed the CCP’s reprehensible conduct to the difficulties of governing a country of 1.3 billion people. American policymakers were told time and again by these adherents of the China-engagement school that the PRC would become a “responsible stakeholder” once a sufficient level of economic modernization was achieved. This did not happen and cannot so long as the CCP rules China.

The PRC routinely and systematically suppresses religious freedom and free speech, including the imprisonment of over one million citizens in Xinjiang and the growing suppression of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The PRC also routinely violates its obligations, as it does with the World Trade Organization, freedom of navigation and the protection of coral reefs in the South China Sea. Beijing then demands that its own people and the rest of the world accept their false narratives and justifications, demands aptly termed as “Orwellian nonsense.”

The PRC is not and never has been a peaceful regime. It uses economic and military force – what it calls its “comprehensive national power” – to bully and intimidate others. The PRC threatens to wage war against a free and democratically led Taiwan.

It is expanding its reach around the globe, co-opting our allies and other nations with the promise of economic gain, often with authoritarian capitalism posing as free commerce, corrupt business practices that go-unchecked, state-controlled entities posing as objective academic, scientific or media institutions and trade and development deals that lack reciprocity, transparency and sustainability. The CCP corrupts everything it touches.

This expansionism is not random or ephemeral. It is manifestly the unfolding of the CCP’s grand strategy. The Party’s ambitions have been given many names, most recently the “China Dream,” the “great rejuvenation” of China, or the “Community of Common Destiny.” The “Dream” envisioned by the Communist Party is a nightmare for the Chinese people and the rest of the world.

We firmly support the Chinese people, the vast majority of whom want to live peaceful lives.

But we do not support the Communist government of China, nor its control by the dangerous Xi Jinping clique. We welcome the measures you have taken to confront Xi’s government and selectively to decouple the U.S. economy from China’s insidious efforts to weaken it. No amount of U.S. diplomatic, economic, or military “engagement” will disrupt the CCP’s grand strategy.

If there is any sure guide to diplomatic success, it is that when America leads—other nations follow. If history has taught us anything it is that clarity and commitment of leadership in addressing existential threats, like from the PRC, will be followed by our allies when policy prescriptions such as yours become a reality. The PRC’s immediate strategy is to delay, stall, and otherwise wait out your presidency. Every effort must be made therefore to institutionalize now the policies and capabilities that can rebalance our economic relations with China, strengthen our alliances with like-minded democracies and ultimately to defeat the PRC’s global ambitions to suppress freedom and liberty.

 

Stay the Course!

 

Author of Letter

James E. Fanell

Captain, USN (Ret)

Former Director of Intelligence & Information Operations U.S. Pacific Fleet

 

List of USA Signatures (Alphabetically)

Willard     Anderson

 

Clarence Anthony

Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret)

 

Rod Azama

Director The Chancellor Group

 

Bob Baker

Former US Army Intelligence Analyst

 

Tim Beard

Rear Admiral, USN (Ret)

 

Michael Bender

Commander, USN (Ret)

 

Kenneth Benway

Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret)

U.S. Army Special Forces

 

Paul Berkowitz

Former Staff Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

 

Joseph Bosco

Retired Department of Defense

 

B.E. Bostwick Jr.

Senior Intelligence Officer, GS-15 (Ret) USPACOM

 

Christopher Brassard

President Ten Eyck Group

 

Robert Brodsky

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Nick Buck

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Naushard Cader

Board Member/Director

Center for War and Peace Studies

 

Roger Canfield

Author americong.com and VVFH.org

 

Kevin Carrico

Senior Lecturer

Monash University

 

Dennis Carroll

 

Gordon Chang

Writer

 

Edward Connelly

PhD Chinese, Australian National University

Independent Translator

 

David Connelly III

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Henry F. Cooper

Ambassador, former Chief Defense & Space Negotiator with the Soviet Union, SDI Director

 

Anders Corr

PhD, Publisher Journal of Political Risk

 

Demetrius Cox

Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret)

U.S. Pacific Fleet Veteran Intelligence Officer

 

Michael Craven

 

Kenneth deGraffenreid

Former Special Assistant to the President, Senior Director of Intelligence Programs, Ronald Reagan National Security Council

 

Chuck DeVore

Lieutenant Colonel, USAR (Ret)

California State Assemblyman, 2004-2010; Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1986-1988

 

Markham Dossett

Commander, USNR (ret)

 

June Teufel-Dreyer

Professor of Political Science University of Miami

 

Ian Easton

Research Fellow Project 2049 Institute

 

Robert D. Eldridge

President

The Eldridge Think Tank

 

Richard Fisher

 

Art Furtney

Major, USMC, (Ret)

 

Frank J. Gaffney

Vice Chairman Committee on the Present Danger: China

 

Samantha Gay

 

Kerry K. Gershaneck

Professor & Senior Research Associate Thammasat University Faculty of Law (CPG)

 

Bill Gertz

Author “Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China’s Drive for Global Supremacy”

 

Paul Giarra

Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret)

 

Chadwick Gore

Former Staff Director House Foreign Affairs Europe, Eurasia, Emerging Threats subcommittee

 

James Grundvig

Freelance Investigative Journalist

 

Ilango Gurusamy

Owner, Freedom on Wheels LLC and Propellant Software

 

Lianchao Han

Vice-President Citizen Power Initiatives for China

 

Heath Hansen

Specialist, USA (Ret)

Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan

 

William Hawkins

President Hamilton Center for National Strategy

 

Donald Henry

Captain, USN, (Ret)

 

William C. Horn

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Bradley Johnson

President Americans for Intelligence Reform

 

Frank Kelly

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Miles Killoch

 

Roy Kirvan

PhD, U.S. Intelligence Community (Ret)

 

Ted Kresge

Lieutenant General, USAF (Ret)

Former Vice Commander U.S. Pacific Air Forces

 

Emil Levine

Captain, USNR, (Ret)

 

Steve Lewandowski

 

Ben Lowsen

China Strategist U.S. Air Force / Sawdey Solution Services, LLC

 

Holly Lynch

Democrat Candidate for NY’s 10th Congressional District

 

 

Tim Lyon

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Victor Mair

Professor University of Pennsylvania

 

Rod Martin

Founder & CEO The Martin Organization, Inc.

 

Tidal W. McCoy

Former Acting Secretary of the U.S. Air Force

 

Thomas G. McInerney

Lieutenant General, USAF (Ret)

Assistant Vice Chief of Staff U.S. Air Force

 

Randy McSmith

Master Chief Petty Officer, USN (Ret)

 

John Mengel

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Paul Midler

Author “What’s Wrong with China”

 

John Mills

Colonel, USAR (Ret)

Director (Ret) Cybersecuritry Policy, Strategy, and International Affairs

 

James Mishina

Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret)

U.S. Tax Payer

 

Wayne Morris

Colonel, USMC (Ret)

Numerous Military Veteran Associations

 

Steven Mosher

President Population Research Institute

 

Denis Muller

Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret)

Merle Mulvaney

Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret)

Member, Red Star Rising

 

Charles “Chuck” Nash

Captain USN (Ret)

 

Jim Newman

Captain, USN (Ret)

JHU/APL

 

Grant Newsham

Colonel, USMCR (retired)

Visiting Scholar, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

 

 

Roscoe Nicholson II

International Consultant

 

Peter O’Brien

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Edward O’Dowd

PhD & Colonel, USA, (Ret)

 

Kyle Olbert

Director of Operations East Turkistan National Awakening Movement

 

Don Oliphant

President

DWO Enterprises

 

Robert Oster

Private Investor

 

Rebeca Page

Publisher

SD Metro Magazine

 

Robert Page

Chairman/CEO REP Publishing, Inc.

 

Russ Penniman

Rear Admiral, USN (Ret)

Former Reserve Deputy Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet

 

Lawrence Peter

Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret)

 

Peter Pry

Dr. & Director EMP Task Force

 

Robert Rector

 

Eric Reddig

U.S. Navy Veteran

 

J.R. Reddig

Captain, USN, (Ret)

 

Louis Riggio

 

Eric Rohrbach

 

Robert Rohrer

 

Gerard Roncolato

Captain, USN (Ret.)

 

Warren Henry Rothman

 

Robert Rubel

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Mark Safranski

Publisher zenpundit.com

 

Michael Schauf

Captain USN (Ret)

Military Intelligence

 

Stuart Schippereit

Commander, USN (Ret)

Former naval intelligence analyst

 

Paul Schmehl

VVFH

 

Suzanne Scholte

President Defense Forum Foundation

 

Carl Schuster

Captain, USN (Ret)

Adjunct Faculty, Hawaii Pacific University

 

Dan Seesholtz

Captain, USN (Ret)

 

Lawrence Sellin

Colonel, USAR (Ret)

Iraq and Afghanistan veteran

 

William Sharp

Former Host, Asia in Review

 

Stephen Sherman

Director RADIX Foundation

 

J. Scott Shipman

Owner B.B. Hoss, Inc.

 

Joseph Smith

President (Ret) Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals

 

Fred Smith

Captain, USN (Ret)

Lecturer, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

 

Peter Smith

Captain, USN (Ret)

Consultant

 

Pete Speer

Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret)

Member, Red Star Rising

 

William A. Stanton

Former Director of the American Institute in Taiwan

 

Guy Stitt

CEO AMI International

 

Duane Stober

Captain, USNR, (Ret)

Former Reserve Intelligence Coordinator Area One

 

Mark Stokes

Executive Director Project 2049 Institute

 

Fred Stratton

Commander, USN (Ret)

 

Gary Stubblefield

Commander, USN (Ret)

 

John Tate

Commander, USN (Ret)

 

Bradley Thayer

Professor University of Texas San Antonio

Mark Tiernan

Captain, USNR (Ret)

 

John J. Tkacik

Director, Future Asia Project International Assessment and Strategy Center

 

Don Tse

Lead researcher SinoInsider

 

Paul Valleley

Major General, USA (Ret)

Chairman Stand Up America

 

John E. Vinson

Captain USN, (Ret)

 

Thomas Wade

 

Arthur Waldron

Lauder Professor of international Relations

University of Pennsylvania

 

Yana Way

Educator, Way Tutoring

 

Toshi Yoshihara

PhD, Author “Red Star Over the Pacific”

 

James Zumwalt

Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret)

 

Jennifer Zeng

 

Foreign Signatures

Terence Russell

Senior Scholar University of Manitoba

Canada

 

Doris Liu

Independent documentary journalist

Canada

 

Jianli Yang

Founder & President Citizen Power Initiatives for China

China

 

Elena Bernini

CEO Oxford Omnia International

Italy

 

Satoshi Nishihata

Washington Bureau Chief The Liberty, Happy Science USA

Japan

 

Larry Ong

Senior analyst SinoInsider

Singapore

 

Chu-cheng Ming

Senior researcher SinoInsider

Taiwan

China’s Military: U.S. Must Get With the Times, ‘Those Who Resist Will Perish’

 

 

China’s Military Warns U.S. Must Get With the Times: ‘Those Who Resist Will Perish’

Tom O’Connor Newsweek
June 6, 2019

China’s military called on the United States to adopt a modern way of thinking in dealing with the People’s Republic, warning America that it risked falling behind.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang condemned the Pentagon’s recent Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which accused Beijing of seeking “to reorder the region to its advantage by leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations.”

He said the ministry was “firmly opposed to its negative contents concerning China,” citing some specific points of contention.

“No strategy should go against the times,” Ren explained. “The trend of the world is mighty and overwhelming. Those who follow it will prosper while those who resist will perish. Peace, development and win-win cooperation are the trends of our times. Any strategy that is closed and exclusive, which is against the general trends, is doomed to failure.”

He also argued that “no strategy should harm the well-being of people all over the world” or “underscore the confrontation side of relations,” calling for greater international dialogue and less unilateral behavior.

Beijing’s economic, political and military rise has raised concerns for Washington, which has accused its rival of dishonest trade practices, such as trapping developing nations in debt, manipulating currency and theft of intellectual property. The U.S. has also increasingly challenged China’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea, and over the breakaway island nation of Taiwan.

Ren said that “some people in the U.S. still hold the Cold War mentality” and “keep exaggerating the strategic competition between China and the U.S. and provoking confrontation between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, we are strongly opposed to that.” He argued that China “has no intention to follow the beaten path of big power seeking hegemony,” but maintained that on matters regarding Taiwan, China would “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Last week, a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft reportedly tailed China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier group in the South China Sea before circling Taiwan. Ren said Thursday that the Chinese armed forces “maintained high alert during the process” and “are strongly opposed to the U.S. military’s provocative actions.”

The U.S. has also continued to sail warships through the contended Taiwan Strait and has routinely vowed “to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.” It has referred to such maritime actions as “freedom of navigation” operations, which are allowed under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ratified by China, but not the U.S.

As the tensions have played out across the South China Sea, home to trillions of dollars worth of energy reserves, the U.S. has also accused China of militarizing disputed islands in order to shore up its long-term presence there. Using imagery provided by Israeli satellite intelligence firm ImageSat International, CNN reported last week on what appeared to be Chinese Chengdu J-10 fighter jets on Yongxing Island, located within the Xisha Islands of the South China Sea.

“There is no dispute over the sovereignty of Xisha Islands,” Ren simply commented when asked about the report Thursday. “It is a legitimate right of sovereign countries to deploy facilities and conduct training on their own territories. The Chinese side’s actions are lawful, reasonable and fair and relevant parties should not be surprised.”

While efforts to improve military relations between the U.S. and China have so far been to little avail, the nations’ ongoing feud has more recently focused on deteriorating trade relations.

Washington has attempted to reverse Beijing’s growing economic influence via the Belt and Road Initiative that has seen Chinese investment in infrastructure projects across the globe and bilateral ties have also grown increasingly strained.

Since President Donald Trump unleashed higher tariffs on imports from China last May, the two countries have engaged in a tit-for-tat war of import taxes that have cost both billions of dollars. Trump told Fox Business Network on Wednesday that he was preparing to impose up to 10 percent — or even 25 percent — tariffs on an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese goods, adding to the 25 percent tax already imposed on some $250 billion in Chinese products, if upcoming talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Japan did not succeed.

The following day, Chinese Foreign Minister spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters that “U.S. threats to impose additional tariffs will in no way intimidate the Chinese people.”

“We do not believe in fallacy, nor are we afraid of pressure. Such tricks will never work on us. I would like to remind the U.S. that waging a trade war and raising tariffs will hurt others as well as itself and can never solve any problem at all,”  Geng said Thursday, calling on the U.S. to abandon “boycott unilateralism, protectionism and bullying from the international community” at the international gathering in Osaka.

Meanwhile:

 

China’s PLA signals it will keep Hong Kong-based troops in barracks

Article

 

Stand Up America U.S. Foundation Supports Equine Therapy for Veterans

 

Stand Up America U.S. Foundation and The Scott Vallely Soldiers Memorial Fund are now supporting The Valor Equine Therapy Service Herd 2 Human Program for our veterans and first responders.

Equine Assisted Therapy has shown to be very effective in treating patients, including combat veterans and first responders, with PTSD, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, as well as behavior disorders.

 

Valor Equine Therapy Services, Inc. (V.E.T.S.) is a Montana based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation established to help veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Statistics show that horses calm the nerves, lower blood pressure and, in general, relieve stress.  Our veterans and first responders will be under the watchful eyes of trained equine professionals.

The goal for VETS is to establish a peaceful, serene atmosphere on a bucolic ranch situated in Northwestern Montana.  This will enable the veterans and first responders to “get away from it all” and relax in a rural setting, enjoying the benefits of a one-on-one relationship with a special horse.  Veterans and first responders will be housed on the ranch for a period of time to allow them to “de-stress” from all of life’s challenges.  VETS will offer programs such as, but not limited to, woodworking, furniture making, ornamental welding, photography, gardening, cooking, and financial counseling.

Mission Statement

To provide a resource for the ever-growing demand for professional assistance in mitigating the damaging effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI) suffered by military veterans, law enforcers, firefighters and EMT responders.  Equine Therapeutic Programs (ETPs) are supervised by professional equestrian instructors who teach wounded veterans and first responders how to interact, react, and care for a horse.

NONPROFIT TAPS INTO HEALING POWER OF HORSES

For more than five years, Valor Equine Therapy Service Inc., a nonprofit based in Columbia Falls, has used the healing power of horses to help active duty members, veterans and first-responders manage and mitigate the side effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that occurs when someone struggles to recover mentally from a traumatic experience.

Some estimate more 13 million people in the United States struggle with PTSD and among the most susceptible are veterans and first-responders.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD affects about 30 percent of Vietnam veterans during their lifetimes, about 12 percent from the Gulf War and about 15 percent from operations in Iraq.

Valor’s founder, Lynn Murray, said that although she is not a veteran herself, her countless friends who served in Desert Storm and Vietnam inspired her to start the organization.

“I wanted to try and help my friends who seemed to not be receiving any help from the VA,” Murray said. “I noticed other animals like dogs were being used to heal people so I thought, why not horses?”

Those who choose to go through Valor’s program participate in various “talking circles” with mental-health professionals and are individually paired with a horse to interact with and care for alongside staff. Considering experiences with PTSD are often difficult to discuss openly, groups usually don’t consist of more than six participants at a time, Murray said.

To describe the benefits of human and horse interaction, Jeff Patterson, co-founder of Herd 2 Human, often turns to a tried-and-true Winston Churchill adage: “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

According to Patterson, interacting with horses can lower blood pressure and slow heart rates. Horses also read and often mirror the emotions and behaviors of their owners and caretakers.

Common side-effects of PTSD include bouts of anxiety and mood swings — emotions that, should they arise, are difficult for those who are suffering to notice. So when the horse begins mirroring their behaviors, participants are then able to recognize and monitor their side-effects, said Valor’s operations manager, Wayne Appl.

“Horses are like a 1,200-pound lie detector,” Appl said. “You can’t hide anything from them.”

And program participants are not the only ones to benefit from equine therapy.

Some of the horses used in Valor’s program are rescues brought in from the Hiatt Equestrian Rescue and Recreation center in Bigfork. The horses are sometimes saved from slaughterhouses and abusive living conditions and are fighting mental problems of their own.

“Those horses need human touch as much as the humans need to touch them,” Murray said. “The animals sometimes finish the program just as healed as the people are.”

Murray said Valor has grown significantly over the years and she hopes to expand their facilities soon. In February, Skijor USA is coming to Columbia Falls and will donate a portion of proceeds from the event to Valor.

Reporter Kianna Gardner may be reached at 758-4439 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com.

Article

Valor Equine Therapy Program

Equine Assisted Therapy Research Abstract



Memorial Day 2019: Remembering All of Ours and All the Days when Being American was Everything

Memorial Day 2019: Remembering All of Ours and All the Days when Being American was Everything.

May 27, 2019

By MG Paul E. Vallely, US Army Ret.

We pause this day in America to remember our fallen heroes, the men and women who answered the call of freedom and paid the ultimate sacrifice. We lament our losses, the losses of our friends, the losses from our communities and our nation as a whole – we bow our heads in silent sorrow, but our hearts are also filled with pride for their service to each and every American – to the longevity of our nation and way of life.

Let us remember and thank them for the nights they slept freezing in a tent, or sweating in the desert, for the lonely days they spent fighting boredom and missing loved ones, for the hours they spent sick in pain from battle and without someone holding their hand other than their fellow soldiers, for the moments of sheer fright in the heat of battle, for the wounds suffered fighting evil, for the endless days in hospitals undergoing painful surgeries, for the precious occasions missed at home with family and friends.

For all of these sacrifices, we need to thank them on behalf of millions of Americans who are so grateful. We truly appreciate their dedication to duty, living up to their oaths, honoring those who came before them, and defending our Constitution.

I wish a special thank you to all the families and friends as well. I want to thank the parents who raised them, stood by them, and made them honorable men and woman. Most especially, we thank the wives, husbands, and loved ones who stood by them and supported them with their love as well.

May their legacy be honored for generations to come, may the tears shed over their coffins fertilize the fields of patriotism in our nation. The new generations to come must be built on strength, duty, honor and country, willing and able to follow in their Warrior footsteps when duty calls to defend America. May their blood not have been shed in vain. May we prove worthy of their sacrifice.

You who have served and are serving as our brave ones, our heroes, are our national treasures. You are the pride of our nation, our strength and our foundation.

Thanks to you, millions have been freed around the world. Those who criticize our country, burn our precious flag, and speak ill of you, are able to do so because their freedom is built upon your blood and your sacrifice.

Our son speaks from his resting place. He speaks to me each day from his hallowed space with beautiful skies and mountains majestic white with snow. God bless his soul and the others and I thank him for his wonderful contribution to our life.

He lives forever in our hearts. I fear no evil when I walk with Warriors. We walk in the valley of the shadow of death, but we fear no evil. We are the Masters of our Destiny and the Captains of our souls.

You are the wind beneath my wings, and I will fly with you forever in eternity.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day began as a tradition of decorating the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers with flags and flowers to show the respect of a grateful nation for their service and sacrifice. This tradition continues today, and our nation now sets aside the last Monday in May to celebrate the courage of the men and women who have worn America’s colors in war and in peace.

I recall as a young man, remembering on Memorial Day that in the morning there was a parade down Main Street, led by a color guard, the high school band, and ranks of veterans from World War I, World War II, and the war of the moment, Korea.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars sold red poppies to raise funds for the disabled. Politicians made speeches and citizens prayed in public.

It was a solemn annual event that taught us reverence for those who served and sacrificed for our country.

It is no longer so in many places in America, especially in our large urban areas.

Sadly, it is now best known to all too many as the beginning of summer, a day for a barbecue, not a day of remembrance.

Begun as a local observance in the aftermath of the Civil War, the first national commemoration took place on May 30, 1868, at the direction of General John A. Logan, Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Though his “General Order No. 11” specified “strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion” – meaning only Union soldiers – those who tended the burial sites at Arlington, VA, Gettysburg, PA, and Vicksburg, MS, decided on their own to decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate war dead.

For five decades the holiday remained essentially unchanged. But in 1919, as the bodies of young Americans were being returned to the U.S. from the battlefields of World War I, May 30th became a truly national event. It persisted as such until 1971, during the Vietnam War – the war America wanted to forget – when the Uniform Holiday Act passed by Congress went into effect, and turned Memorial Day into a “three-day weekend.”

Since then, it’s become an occasion for appliance, mattress, and auto sales, a day for picnics, barbecues, and auto races. Thankfully, there are some places besides Arlington National Cemetery, places like Bigfork, Montana, where Memorial Day is still observed as a time to honor America’s war dead.

This Memorial Day we remember those who have served our nation in the past and those who currently serve America today. Although Memorial Day comes only once a year, we must make sure that our service members know how grateful we are every day. This day recognizes the sacrifices made by our courageous men and women who have fallen in defense of our nation’s liberty.

This Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember and honor America’s fallen and our current day warriors who are advancing freedom’s cause and defending us in far away lands, always at the ready.

WE salute you one and all.  WE bow before you in respect and humility. May God bless you and God bless America – the land of the free and the home of the brave.