Friday, July 24, 2009

Providing for the Common Defence

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

While visiting Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX, I saw several soldiers guiding their wives, children, and parents proudly through the museum. These men and women had all devoted at least a portion of their lives to providing for the common defence.

I was touched by the sense of community I felt from everyone on the base; whether it was in one of the museums, in the cafeteria, or while listening to Harold talk about the programs for Army wives and children. There was a general "we look out for each other" kind of feeling to the place.

I was not prepared for the sheer vastness of the base--it was like a city, complete with suburbs and rural areas. I thought about what it really takes to defend a country this big.

I was reminded of this again yesterday, as I read a quote from Ronald Reagan. In 1984, Reagan addressed the National Republican Convention in Dallas, saying, "There are some who've forgotten why we have a military. It's not to promote war, it's to be prepared for peace."

Providing for the common defence means making sure that we have the means to protect ourselves just in case. I like the word "defence": it's not antagonistic. I think it speaks to our goal as a nation in the overall scheme of things. We're not out there agressively trying to conquer the rest of the world. Sure, we get mixed up in things overseas, but it's always in defence of human rights, our national security, or a value that we hold as unnegotiable.

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