As Americans begin the Memorial Day weekend, we remember those who have given their lives to defend the freedoms and way of life that we enjoy. The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano writes in The Sacramento Bee that as we honor them, we must also “do our utmost not to add to their ranks”:
Cold gray monuments, brassy parades, majestic flyovers – they are all remembrances of those who died in the service of the nation. They are all part of our Memorial Day.
No day speaks more about American patriotism than the day we thank those who gave their lives in the fight for freedom. Yet, no ceremony, no solemnity can ever replace those we have lost . . .
So while on this day we honor sacrifice, we have a job the rest of the year as well: reminding our leaders in Washington to ensure that the troops who defend us have what they need to do the job – and come back to us. There is no better way to recognize the valor of those who serve, and demonstrate care and respect for their families, than to pay it forward – to properly arm our armed forces for the next fight.
Carafano writes that adequately funding defense is among America’s greatest challenges, and it is one that must be addressed:
After 10 years, we have put a lot of wear and tear on the armed forces. The danger that our military preparedness could plummet has never been greater.
Today, America has the smallest Navy since before World War I, and the force is aging. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the popular movie “Top Gun.” The ship featured in the film was the USS Enterprise. It is still at sea. In fact, it was commissioned in the 1960s, and is the second oldest ship in the U.S. fleet. Ships in the Navy’s sister fleet, the U.S. Coast Guard, are even older . . .
America’s Air Force has the oldest average fleet of planes and the fewest number of planes in its inventory at any time since World War II . . .
The Army and Marine Corps both have aging fleets of vehicles – and have just seen the plans to replace them pushed further down the road.
Annual spending to buy new equipment is already under-funded by about $50 billion a year. Still, there are calls to slash military spending.
Mike Brownfield oversees execution of The Heritage Foundation . http://www.heritage.org/ social networking strategy and online media outreach as the think tank’s senior digital communications associate.