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Jennifer Horn: A nation worth dying for

July 11. 2017 11:42PM

On Monday afternoon, a KC-130 transport plane, with 15 U.S. Marines and a sailor on board, crashed in a field in Mississippi. All personnel were killed. While officials continue to investigate the cause of the crash, it is a tragic reminder for the rest of us that the ultimate sacrifice happens without warning, and often under circumstances we never expect.

More than a million of America’s sons and daughters serve in the armed forces.

While only a small percentage are serving in places such as Afghanistan, they are all in constant training, ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Whether working with explosives, shooting rockets from a S.M.A.W., or flying a transport plane across the skies of Mississippi, the training itself exposes our military to life-threatening dangers on a daily basis. Not all casualties take place on the field of war, but all are extraordinary sacrifices made by courageous men and women in defense of a country they love.

Whenever something like this happens, I pray that God will welcome our soldiers immediately into His arms, and that He will offer comfort and peace to the family left behind.

Lately, however, I have added a third rail to those prayers. I pray also that we will fight to preserve a nation worth dying for.

When a young man or woman enters the military, they are making a promise to defend freedom for all, to protect our country from attack by those who do not value individual liberty, and to lay themselves down, if need be, in defense of people they will never know.

They sign up to work in dangerous environments, they train vigorously and live with the daily knowledge that at any moment, they could be called to battle.

They cannot win the fight alone, however. It is incumbent upon each of us to engage in the fight to preserve the constitutional democracy our founding fathers gave us and, lately, elected representatives on both sides of the political aisle are failing at that effort. Just a quick review of the nightly news will highlight moral and political failures too numerous to count. Legislation that is intrusive and presses constitutional limits, committee hearings used to score political points rather than advance truth, and a manipulation of the system for personal gain are common occurrences in Washington.

Perhaps each time a senator, or congressman, or President opens their mouth, they should consider whether what they are about to say — or do, or vote on — is worth fighting for. Is it worth dying for? Maybe we should line the halls of Congress with photos of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are serving today, as a reminder of the true cost of what the men and women in Washington are doing.

But the same can be said of those of us who engage in politics outside of the Beltway as well. We are supposed to be fighting to preserve the Bill of Rights, integrity in politics and constitutional leadership. Our efforts, while partisan, should be focused on the rights of all Americans. It is our job to hold our elected officials accountable to the Constitution, accountable to our expectations as citizens of a great nation. Too often, however, we make their failures easy and excusable by way of our own hypocrisy and intellectual laziness. When we are willing to bend on critical issues of freedom and national principles, we can hardly expect Congress to do any different.

It will be easy for Republicans and Democrats alike to read this with the certainty that I am speaking about the other. I’m not.

Ours should be a government built on integrity and transparency, but on this, both parties have failed on a grand scale.

Ours should be a nation that lifts up the oppressed, sheds light on freedom and draws all those who live in the darkness of tyranny to that light, but in our current condition of chaos and corruption, we are at risk of losing even this.

Which is why, each time I hear of another tragic loss of our military defenders, I pray, God, please, help us to preserve a nation worth dying for.

Nashua’s Jennifer Horn is the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party and is active in political and civic affairs.

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