Summer, autumn, winter, spring. Nature cycles through time like the waves on a beach.
People and civilisations do too.
Peace, prosperity, complacency and war. The rise and fall of empires thought to be eternal.
Human affairs cycle through the ages like our earth around the sun. Tilting this way then that but drawn by the fates along a well traversed path.
Attila, Tojo, Hitler, Muhammad and tyrants along the human continuum remind us that envy always lurks near prosperity and peace. Eager, greedy eyes with willing hands and minds are easily enlisted to impose the tyrants' way and take what others have.
On May 2, 1833 The Virginia Free Press and Farmers' Repository published this variously attributed quote:
“Some one has justly remarked, that ‘eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.’ Let the sentinels on the watch-tower sleep not, and slumber not.
We owe that someone a respect best rendered by listening. Our freedom was not free. The lowest price on offer is eternal vigilance. Others of our ancestry gave everything. Not for themselves, but for you.
When force comes to take our freedom away only force will repel it. More love won't, our law means nothing to it and international resolutions are wishes. Giving more and more away works for a while; until there's no more to give.
In human affairs as in physics a force unmet by resistance mows down all in its way.
These are some of the remaining few who were prepared to meet Hitler and Tojo's force and to stop it. These men offered their lives for your freedom.
A couple of decades ago they silently and slowly slipped from influence in free governments. Their wisdom had steadied us and they continued to pay the price for our peace through their constant, reflexive vigilance - a vigilance borne of the horrors and inevitability of its absence.
Now, we choose to be governed by idealists, by the soft and coddled grandchildren of warriors. For most of today's leaders who've known only peace, heroes are judged not by the usurpers they stop - but by stewardship over the transfer of our collective wealth to them. In that transfer, too much is never enough.
A life lived in peaceful times is a rare and fortunate one. Vigilance is a bargain basement price. We would be fools to wait until today's bargains disappear and we find we are in a captive market.
Do your bit for vigilance. Start by knowing these men, learn about what they did and why they did it.
And when the eager, greedy eyes appear, unite to say this far and no more.
The whippersnappers among these fellows are at least 88 years old, most are well into their 90s.
Thank you for your service young men.
Lest We Forget.