The foregoing quote may strike some as somewhat over-the-top revolutionary rabble-rousing. But when you think about it, the very idea of human liberty is the foundation of our Declaration of Independence. It is the world’s most enduring instrument of government, the Constitution of the United States of America.
Two years after this well-known quote, the French Revolution got fully underway with the storming of the Bastille. Yes, Thomas Jefferson was initially a big fan of the French Revolution. After all, the French rose against a decadent and increasingly irrelevant monarchy like the Americans. The rousing cry of “liberty, equality, brotherhood!” had a thrilling relevance on both sides of the ocean.
The Cry for Freedom
However, the cry for freedom was soon perverted as crazy radicals like Robespierre changed the French Revolution into a not-so-funny funhouse mirror version of our own. Their self-destructive path ended with the rise of a new despot, Napoleon Bonaparte. According to the Monticello website:
“Like most Americans, when the French rebelled against Louis XVI, [Jefferson] generally praised their action, hesitated over it, and finally recoiled from it.”
So Jefferson did not advocate bloodletting to “water the tree of liberty.” The context of his quote was the aftermath of the American Revolution when the new nation struggled toward self-government under the failing Articles of Confederation.
Our new nation had somewhat of a reputation for fractiousness and was currently being slandered by the British government as an experiment about to end in anarchy. The British were still not with the program at the time and believed the American Revolution to be a perverse historical anomaly.
They Were Wrong
They were wrong, and Jefferson’s observation was the truth that wrapped around much of our country’s history from the War of 1812 through World War II and up to the War on Terror. From Osama Bin Laden back through history, tyrants and enemies of freedom met their demise through the power and skill of our military.
It always seems that when one enemy of freedom bites the dust, others eagerly step up. Look no further than North Korea’s dopey but dangerous “Dear Leader” Kim Jung-Un (of the bad haircut) or Russia’s ex-KGB thug Vladimir Putin (the new dictator of Crimea and seizing more as I write this) for modern-day examples of what Jefferson was referring to.
Unfortunately, our current administration would rather withdraw from each provocation and draw a new red line than learn the lesson of history that you cannot sacrifice the freedom of others in the hopes that the tyrant will spare you.
Always at the Ready
But, as in the past, our military will endure and stay as ready as possible under the unenlightened constraints of a commander-in-chief, which is more comfortable playing politics than looking after our national defense and veterans. With what is going on in 2022, it may be more complex than ever. However, they will prevail.
Let’s continue to honor their sacrifices in hopes that someday, we’ll elect a more enlightened president…
Unlike so many companies on and offline, we never have a “Memorial Day Sale” as this day is too solemn for us to consider it a celebratory day or a day to offer discounts to line our pockets. So instead, just like all Patriots on Monday, we’ll say a short prayer of thanks to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we have the liberty and luxury of having a day to kick off the summer BBQ season.
Remembering The Fallen
Let’s also pause and think about Billy Cyrus’s song lyrics, “all gave some, and some gave all,” and by doing so, they, in fact, watered the tree of liberty.
Over the holiday weekend, please take a moment to visit our Wall of Heroes and pay your respects. It will be a profound experience. Then, please send the link to others to remind them why they get to have a long 3-day weekend and that it is not about sales, fun, and games — it’s about remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and liberty.
I can always tell when Judi has added new photos, which requires her to view the entire Wall to ensure its functionality — the box of Kleenex is right next to her mouse. If you have a Fallen Hero in your family, please allow us the honor of posting their photo by submitting it here.