(The following is a transcript of my monologue from Saturday’s “Huckabee” on TBN. It includes a message to many men and women who are incredibly important to all of us, and a personal message to the most important person in my own life.)
While many Americans will be enjoying a long weekend of picnics, barbecues, beaches, pools and lakes and music festivals, let’s not forget that Memorial Day weekend is really not just a time to kick off the summer and indulge ourselves in food and frolic. It’s a time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to provide for us the unprecedented freedom that we so often take for granted as Americans.
No people in the history of the world have experienced the liberties and opportunities or prosperity that we have enjoyed as citizens of the greatest country on God’s green earth — the United States of America. I don’t say that just as a biased American, but as one who can scour the pages of human history and say definitively that no nation has ever given its inhabitants the degree of freedom, security, and pursuit of happiness as has this extraordinary experiment in government called the United States.
Our Constitution is a simple, yet profound, blueprint for a government in which the ultimate power rests with the people and not with a king, a tyrant dictator, a military general, or even an elected official. The genius of our nation is that the people have been vested with the highest power, and while we temporarily grant it to those we elect, we don’t give it away. This great system of self-government with its separation of powers, balance of powers, and accountability to its people has been and continues to be protected against both foreign and domestic threats by those who trade their clothes of choice for a uniform and who trade their personal liberties to accept orders from someone who outranks them.
And in the process of providing that protection, hundreds of thousands of those in our military have willingly given their lives for those of us who will enjoy this long weekend. No American should take this for granted nor ignore it. It shouldn’t be left only to the Gold Star families alone to take a pause for a somber reminder of the price of our benefits of citizenship. We all owe it to them to show respect in some way for those whose death gives us our lives.
For me personally, this weekend marks another occasion worth mentioning. May 25th marks 45 years of marriage to my wife Janet, mother of our three children, Ya-ya to our six grandchildren, and a pretty amazing woman who has endured virtual poverty with me in our early days, and battled cancer in her spine 44 years ago that doctors predicted would take her life. When she fought and won that battle, she was told the surgery and radiation would render her unable to have children. While she lost one, she gave birth to three.
She dropped out of college to work as a dental assistant to help me finish, then went with me on the 45-year journey of a career in broadcasting and advertising, almost twelve years as a pastor, and then the past few decades in the tumultuous and vicious world of politics and government. She has endured some of the most vile and hate-filled criticism, not just directed at her husband but at her and even her children. She chose to be a stay-at-home mom when our kids were small, which meant less money but more memories, and when her beloved mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, she walked that road with her mother until the end.
Forty-five years is a long time to put up with me, so for that she’s a saint. And I’m proud to have shared life and love with her. One of her favorite songs is Kenny Rogers’ classic, “Through the Years.” And now that there have been 45 of them, she’s entitled to say she has endured “Through the Years.” Happy Anniversary, Janet—I love you! And I hope we have a few more.