On this day of gratitude, celebration, and remembrance, sadly, we see even more clearly than usual, the moral confusion in the American mind. Think how often, on this day, you hear the glorification of sacrifice – over and over lauding the 'sacrifice' of the brave men and women who have served this country. It is clear from the manner in which the many media sources discuss the merit of these men and women, that, to them, it is the supposed sacrifice of the veterans' personal values which makes what they have done so admirable. It is again and again stressed how these service members gave up or disregarded their personal interests or values – IE. sacrificed their personal interests – for the sake of the nation. But is this really what these great men and women have done, or have they rather pursued a true prioritization of values, and is this not the fact that makes them so remarkable? Have they neglected a greater personal value and pursued the lesser personal value of protecting their country? Or rather, awesomely, have they truly held a greater personal value for the protection and preservation of this country and what that means for themselves, their fellow men (whom they value), and for their family?
These men and women are noble and worthy of admiration, not because they have disregarded their own interests for the sake of the nation, but because they have personally valued this nation of liberty rightly. They have identified and defended that on which their own values, and historically the personal values of all men, depend – liberty – the rights of the individual as superseding the mob, the group, or the government. It is this which is awe inspiring, that they see a true primary value and realize that their own and all true human life depends on it. The correlation between truth and human action is a glorious sight. Men and women willing to die to protect the ideas which make true human (rational and free) life possible are not 'sacrificing' their own interests for the interests of others, but rather seeing a value (freedom) on which all other real values depend, for themselves as well as the rest of mankind. To see a man or woman engaged in the preservation of that which is truly valuable, disregarding any lesser or secondary whim or fancy, is an awe inspiring and instructive sight.
It is hideous to encapsulate this high virtue as noble because “they sacrificed themselves for others.” It is a pernicious lie to say that the value of these men and women lies in their disregard for themselves. Their value lies in the freely chosen correlation between their identification of their values and the truth of fundamental human value. This is right and beautiful human action in avid defense of that which makes humanity possible. These men and women are not engaged in self immolation for others, and if they were it would not be virtuous or admirable. These men and women are the defenders of the true good, a good that makes their own and all others' moral actions possible.
To emphasize that 'caring nothing for one's self' is the key feature making Veterans great is horribly offensive and simply another device of the ideologies threatening America. These men and women are not great for offering or living their lives for anyone other than their own selves. No. They are great because they have recognized a great good, a good on which true human life depends, and have not looked to others to secure it, but have acted to secure and preserve that which they rightly value, with great courage and great honor. Those who have died in this great task are not to be remembered for valuing their own lives so little, but for valuing human life so greatly. God bless them.