Tag Archives: sacrifice

Opting Out of Remembrance Day


A recent controversy being discussed in the Canadian media is the fact that parents can ask that their children be allowed to “opt-out” of school Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day as it is sometimes known, is observed on November 11 in most commonwealth countries around the world.  The day and time – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – were chosen to commemorate the official end to hostilities in the First World War.  The primary purpose of the day though, is to honour the fallen soldiers who were not lucky enough to return home from the battlegrounds in Europe.  Over time the ceremony has evolved and it is now generally a time to remember and pay homage to all of our veterans both living and dead.  It is one day of the year when the country comes together in a moment of silence to pay respect to the soldiers who have given their lives, and the soldiers who continue to risk their lives, to protect their fellow citizens.

For me, Remembrance Day goes far beyond honouring our veterans and their fallen comrades.  To me it is about freedom.  That is the cause that these brave men and women fought and died for.  It is a cause that is shared by soldier and civilian alike and fought for by both, albeit in different ways.  It stretches back well before the two great wars.  It’s a battle that has been fought continuously since the dawn on human civilization.  It is a perpetuation of the struggle between those who would live free and those who wish to control them.

Freedom is a cause that is so much bigger than the conflicts of the 21st Century.   The battle has raged for millennia, being fought between nations, within nations and even within families.  Governments have been toppled, nations conquered and families torn apart.

Freedom is such a simple word, but it seems to be a surprisingly difficult concept for many to understand.  Freedom isn’t about supporting the rights of only the people whose opinions and beliefs of those with whom you agree.  Freedom is about supporting the rights of everyone, especially those with whom you disagree.

The outcry caused by this rarely used school policy has clearly shown how little some people understand the true meaning of freedom.  There have been calls to make the ceremonies mandatory, to ‘force’ people to pay their respects on Remembrance Day.   These vocal few wish to honour the sacrifices of those who died in the name of freedom by taking away a freedom.

It needs to be pointed out that there are two very different groups who may choose to opt-out.  The first group is made up of those who are entirely opposed to Remembrance Day, be it religious, social or other reasons.  While I don’t agree with their position, I wholeheartedly support their right to it.   Opponents to this school policy claim that allowing students to opt-out of the ceremony goes against everything that our soldiers have fought and died for.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Those who choose to opt-out are paying the highest honour to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives.  They are exercising the very freedom that those brave souls fought and died for.

The second group are those people who fully support the day, but for whatever reason can’t or don’t want to attend a ceremony.  While Remembrance Day services are generally a good thing, it needs to be remembered that the pomp and tradition are really only the trimmings.  The meat of the day is taking the time to appreciate the freedoms that we currently enjoy and giving thanks to all the people throughout history who have fought and died for those freedoms.   It’s not necessary to attend a ceremony to appreciate and honour those sacrifices.   We all have the right to pay our respects in our own way, and the traditional Remembrance Day service is only one possible way to do so.

Tomorrow morning at 11:00, while I observe a moment of silence, I will not only pay my respects to the fallen, I will also acknowledge the people who are choosing not to observe that moment.  Those people are the proof that we still have at least some freedoms left for which to give thanks.

Gun Control: The Ultimate Human Rights Violation


I stumbled upon this article today and thought it worthy of being re-broadcast.  Enjoy!

Gun Control: The Ultimate Human Rights Violation
by A.W.R. Hawkins
Posted 06/03/2010 ET

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37303

Lucid students of the political sphere have certainly noticed that liberals are now using the phrase “human rights” even more than they once used their old standby, “civil liberties.” Of course they rarely define human rights, and even when they try, the definition varies depending on the goal of the person that’s using the phrase.

But this doesn’t stop them from having international conferences on human rights, dumping money into organizations like Human Rights Watch, and allowing surviving members of the Woodstock crowd to charge America’s military with violating human rights while simultaneously giving Iran a seat on the U.N.’s Women’s Rights Commission.

Perhaps the two clearest threads in all the human rights jargon are the focus on international law coupled with a potent strain of anti-Americanism. This is a combination that can be deadly when accurately aimed at national sovereignty or individual rights.

The most telling aspect of the left’s obsession with human rights is not so much what its proponents claim to defend but what they would be happy to sacrifice. And one thing all human rights activists are perpetually ready to jettison is the right Americans enjoy in keeping and bearing arms.

Ironically, this right, summarily stated in the 2nd Amendment, should be the lynchpin of any honest pursuit of human rights. Thomas Jefferson made this clear when he equated a government-backed prohibition against defending one’s self with a government-backed denial of “the most basic of nature’s rights.”

When one reads Jefferson’s statement in light of his many writings on nature’s laws and the benefits of private gun ownership, it’s clear he was implying that the denial of the right to self-defense with a firearm is essentially a denial of one of the core aspects of what it means to be human.

In other words, gun control actually steals part of our humanity.

How much worse of a human rights violation can exist than one that actually separates the “human” from the “rights”?

None of this is hard to understand if we just imagine a woman who lives alone, and is being stalked by a dangerous man. She goes to a gun store to buy a handgun with which to protect herself, but because she lives in Chicago, Mayor Daley will not allow her to purchase a gun. Thus she goes home, and hopes the lock on her door will hold.

When he’s ready, the stalker becomes an intruder who breaks the door open, assaults the woman, and then leaves with a smile on his face. After reflecting on the matter he realizes the woman has no means with which to defend herself, so he goes back for more, and in time, as his callousness increases, he goes back more frequently. He knows the woman is helpless to stop him because she has been denied that “most basic of nature’s rights.”

In this scenario, how long would it be before the woman felt less and less like a woman and more and more like a dog? How long would it be before she had a thorough understanding of what Jefferson meant when he coupled gun control with the denial of a core aspect of what it means to human?

America remains a shining city on a hill in this dark world, partly because we still have the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of our lives and property. In light of Jefferson’s writings, I don’t think I go too far in saying that this one freedom goes a long way in keeping our humanity intact.

If you ever doubt the degree to which private gun ownership and the freedom to use those guns for self-defense upholds our humanness, just head on down to El Paso, Tex., where the murder rate is around 23 victims annually. Then lock up your gun in the United States and cross the border into Juarez, Mexico, where the natural right to keep and bear arms has long been suppressed and where the murder rate, at 2,500 to 3,000 annually, is startling.

Once you get to Juarez, it won’t be long till you feel like the woman who sat in her apartment staring at the door, hoping the lock would hold up under pressure because it was the only line of defense she had against her assailant.

Gun control could just be the ultimate human rights violation.

And if we ever give up our guns in this great nation, we will ultimately give up our humanity.

HUMAN EVENTS columnist A.W.R. Hawkins holds a Ph.D. in U.S. Military History from Texas Tech University. He will be a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal during the summer of 2010.