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A demonstration I’d like to see
May 31, 2010
by Ivan Raconteur

Most of us are happy to live in the land of the free the home of the brave.

Some people, however, see protesting as a recreational activity.

On any given day, one is likely to find a group of people somewhere in this country carrying signs and banners protesting something.

That is actually one of the benefits of living in the US.

We may not always agree with the things the protesters are complaining about, but we are lucky to live in a place where we have the right and the opportunity to participate in public protests.

There are some places in the world, places where there are plenty of things to demonstrate against, where the government deals with protesters by shooting them or throwing them in prison and discarding the key.

These governments do not take constructive criticism well.

In this country, things are different.

People protest just about everything they can think of. People go out and protest the treatment they are receiving from their employer and go on strike for higher wages, even if their wages and benefits are already better than those of most of the people around them.

Others protest the assistance they are getting from the government (really from the taxpayers), even when that assistance is already very generous by most standards.

We can protest the government itself, which it probably deserves (although at the end of the day, I will take our government over just about any other government one could offer).

A person can go out and protest whatever he wants to, even if he has never worked a day in his life or made any useful contribution to the common good.

We even let people who are in this country illegally march down the street protesting against us, and allow them to burn the American flag while waving the flag from the country from which they came.

That is how strongly we believe in the freedom of speech (although I can’t help thinking that if their country is so great, what the heck are they doing here?).

The fact that anyone, even the biggest fathead among us, or the biggest drain on society, still has the right to go out and say whatever is on his mind, feeble though it may be, is one of the beautiful things about our country.

My intention, in providing these examples, is not to suggest that protesting is wrong. My point is that while people have the right to protest, it would be nice to see the other side once in awhile, too.

Take Memorial Day, for example. This would be a perfect opportunity to remember those brave men and women who gave their lives for this country in order that others can sit safely at home and complain.

Veterans are the ones who have preserved the rights we hold so dear.

The protesters are pretty good at knowing and exercising their rights, but it is the veterans who protected those rights.

Men and women in all branches of the service give up a tremendous amount for us. They take precious time away from their homes and families to answer the call of duty in some fairly unpleasant places. They endure hard work and hostile conditions and too many of them don’t ever make it home.

Even those who do make it home are often not the same as they were before they left. Many are injured, and whether their injuries are physical, psychological, or emotional, some never fully recover.

Veterans probably have more to complain about than most of us, but they are generally not the ones doing the protesting.

There are hundreds of people in this country who seem to have nothing better to do than to carry protest signs.

It would be a nice change, this Memorial Day, if those protesters took a day off from whatever petty grievance they are currently protesting, and instead stood up in a show of support for the veterans who died protecting the right for all of us to protest.

They could wear red, white, and blue, and their signs could read, “Thank you, veterans.”

One has to admit, it would be a pretty impressive sight to see all those professional protesters out demonstrating in support of something for a change. That is one demonstration I would like to see.

I will look for them when I am attending the Memorial Day program in my local community, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Throughout our history, military personnel have fought and died to protect the country they loved, including the rights some of us take for granted.

Unfortunately, the only rights some people seem to care about are their own.

We would do well, this Memorial Day, to take a moment to say a word of thanks to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for ours – and for the rights they died to protect.