Today, in Egypt, a friend and political ally of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak vies for the presidency against a representative of an organization that has long advocated and exercised violence as a means of maintaining a firm religious grip on its constituents.
Today, Syria reels in the wake of a crackdown in the close-knit community of Houla – carried out by armed civilian militias with major government support – which left ninety dead after the militants traveled house to house eliminating entire families.
Even in Russia, through which the waters of democracy have flowed for over two decades, three opposition leaders were arrested at the dawn of Putin’s third term.
But in the United States – even forty years ago – when a president was involved in carrying out and concealing legal and political corruption, that leader voluntarily left office, without the pointing of a pistol or the collapse of a government, and his nation moved forward.
Sometimes soldiers are pawns. Sometimes politicians are thugs. But there exists, in this fervent national discourse of ours, more than defense budgets and political efficacy. Democratic principle is, by no means, a given. When the map goes red, and when it goes blue, or when it lands anywhere in between, servicemen and servicewomen will maintain that principle. They are what sets the rights of a citizen of Denver apart from those of a citizen of Damascus.
In every language, in every faith, we pray for the day we can stop producing camouflage uniforms and M-16s. Today, we thank the people who wear those uniforms and carry those guns for waiting with us, cautiously, warily, patiently for that day.