What Does Memorial Day Mean to You?

As Memorial Day approaches I want you to remember that Memorial Day is more than a day off from work where we can hold barbecues and head for the shopping mall to buy stuff that is put on sale.

Memorial Day is a day in which we should remember our nation’s valiant soldiers who, since the founding of this great nation went in harm’s way to protect our nation, our citizens and our way of life. We owe these men and women a debt that we can never fully repay. It has been said that “Freedom is not free!”

Freedom has been paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our men and women in uniform. All too many laid down their lives, knowing full well the dangers they accepted in performing their duties for our nation. Others have returned with debilitating injuries, physical, emotional or both for having defended our nation and our people.

I would ask that in addition to keeping them in your thoughts and prayers and make contributions to various charities that support these American heroes, that you honor them, their valor and, all too often, their sacrifices in another way.

You must be the best American that you can!

As I have said in many of my commentaries, our responsibilities as citizens of this democracy don’t end with casting a vote when there are elections, but begin in the voting booth!

We have all been taught that our government consists of three branches; the Executive (headed up by the President and includes the cabinet and the various enforcement and regulatory agencies; the Legislative that includes members of both houses of Congress and their staffers and support personnel and the Judiciary that consists of the Supreme Court and the other federal courts.

memorial day

There is, in a manner of speaking, a fourth branch of our government that consists of We the People. In order for this important component of our government to live up to its responsibility, we must take our responsibilities seriously!

This means being as well educated and well informed as possible. We must learn to question what we are told and then as we develop an understanding of the critical issues that confront our nation and our communities today, we must make it our business to routinely contact those who are elected to represent us. Politicians are not mind readers. We must be as clear and articulate, persuasive and reasoned in our approaches to these politicians and their staffers.

When our representatives do “the right thing” we should be quick to contact them and be supportive of their leadership and courage.

We should be no less swift to contact them to let them know when we are dissatisfied by those things that they do that we disapprove of.

The most effective way to minimize the impact of the small but highly vocal special interest groups is to have the biggest special interest group to become more engaged in the process. That huge “special interest group” is the average American who has been all but ignored by both political parties.

By taking our responsibilities as seriously as have our soldiers, we will honor our soldiers, our law enforcement officers and our firefighters- all of our fellow Americans who put their lives on the line for all of us and, all too often make the “ultimate sacrifice” to protect us, our families and our nation in the most important manner possible, but practicing the tenets of democracy that they have defended for all of us.

The complacency of the majority of our fellow citizens that has emboldened far too many politicians to cater to the special interest groups to the peril of our nation and to the citizens of our nation must end.

Certainly we should keep our soldiers and their families in our thoughts and our prayers. We should make contributions, when we can, to charities that support our soldiers and their families. But we most certainly should also honor their valor and sacrifices by becoming the best possible practitioners of democracy each and every day!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

Michael Cutler, a former Senior INS Investigator, an expert witness in more than a dozen Congressional Hearings is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and an advisor to the ‘911 Families for a Secure America.’ He writes about the nexus between immigration and national security.