What would those we honor on Memorial Day think of homegrown assaults on democracy?CST Editorial Boardon May 31, 2021 at 12:42 am

Soldiers from the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, the “Old Guard”, place miniature US flags at graves in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, on Thursday. The “Flags In” tradition takes place ahead of Memorial Day which honors service members who died while serving in the military. | Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

As we look at their fading photographs, we ask: Would our brave bygone soldiers have given their lives for politicians’ right to subvert election results?

On this Memorial Day, as democracy in America comes under attack even in the halls of government, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

We wonder what those heroes we honor on this day would think of seditious Americans and big-dollar political donors who would selfishly overturn the will of the people. What would they think of those who would twist the political process for personal gain?

As we look at their fading photographs, we ask: Would those brave bygone soldiers have given their lives for a politician’s right to subvert election results? Would they have braved everything from musket fire to artillery to IEDs so that future politicians could claim unjustified lifetime holds on their offices?

Would they have said, “Make the world safe for minority rule”? Or “Don’t tread on voter-suppression photo ID requirements”?

Would they have taken to the shores at Omaha Beach to make it possible for partisan state legislatures to overturn the decisions of the voters and select their own presidential winners? Would they have admired the members of Congress who voted not to certify the results of the Electoral College?

As they slogged through the mire or battled under fire in foxholes, did those who died for our country say, “We are fighting so there can be Pizzagate and QAnon”? At the Battle of the Bulge, did they see nothing but “tourists” coming at them?

On the sands of Iwo Jima, did they fight so that grifters could look for ballots that contain bamboo? Would they have attributed military setbacks to Dominion voting machines?

Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP
Millie Mester, 5, of Davison, Michigan, bows her head as she places American flags at some of the 26,000 headstones Thursday at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township, Michigan. Millie and her family joined others volunteering to place an American flag at each headstone before Memorial Day.

Did anybody say “Fifty-four forty or fight for 11,780 more votes in Georgia”? Or “We have met the enemy, and they are the voters”? Or “Give us mail-in voting bans or give us death”?

Would they have approved of threats of violence against duly appointed vote counters just trying to do their jobs, ethically and fairly? Would they have looked the other way as partisans purged voter registration rolls? Would they have approved of secretive and suspicious “audits” of votes in states where certain parties weren’t happy with the outcome? Would they have supported a Niagara of bogus lawsuits designed to overturn elections and cast doubt on the results?

Is this what those honorable heroes would be telling us today if their silenced voices could be heard? Is this why they left their homes and went off to war?

Not likely.

We think the servicemen and servicewomen who gave their lives in America’s wars were fighting for something pure and fundamental: American democracy. We think they fought for a vote for everyone. They fought for the American ideal that so many politicians are so busy trashing right now.

We talked with a few veterans who feel the same.

“It makes me sick to see the politicians mess with one of our most basic rights for their own benefit,” said Mike Auxier, a Bloomington resident who grew up in Arlington Heights and served in the Army during Vietnam. “I think they should all be voted out of office.”

“We supposedly fought for democracy and free and fair elections, and you see both of those trampled on,” said Arnold Stieber of Hyde Park, who served in the infantry in Vietnam. “I think it is disgusting, disgraceful and treasonous.”

“Democracy is the reason is the I served,” said Burrell Poe of Logan Square, who served in the Army under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “Protecting people’s right to vote is extremely important.”

On this Memorial Day, we owe it to those who fought and died for America to stand up for American democracy.

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