Editorial: Freedom also includes responsibility


Memorial Day is a time for remembrance, a chance to recall why so many gave so much to allow us to be free. Without the sacrifices of millions of Americans during wartime, we wouldn't be free to do the many things we like to do on a national holiday.

That's why it's disturbing to learn that vandals across the country took it upon themselves over the holiday weekend to desecrate memorials that honor veterans.

It happened in three locations: At a neighborhood in Los Angeles, a town in Kentucky and a Civil War battlefield in Virginia. It shouldn't happen anywhere, at any time, whether it's a holiday or not.

There are a lot of angry people in this country. That perspective has dominated the conversation during the current presidential campaign. There are reasons for that anger, and a lot of it is justified. But a lot of that anger is not. It seems that we live in an era where freedom and free speech are defined as anything that I want to do is OK just because I want to do it, or because I say it is. But we're pretty sure that's not the definition the Founding Fathers had in mind.

This may come as a shock to some people, but freedom goes hand-in-hand with responsibility. What this means is that you have to take other people into consideration before you act. Why do you think we have laws? Now, responsibility is a simple principle, but for some reason, and in many cases, it seems to have been lost.

Desecrating veterans memorials demonstrates a total lack of responsibility, a complete lack of respect, and an appalling lack of taking other people's rights into consideration. In Los Angeles, a Vietnam War memorial was defaced with graffiti. In Kentucky, someone thought it was a brilliant idea to drive through a Memorial Cross display that honors the names of 5,000 war veterans dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Those cases are bad enough, but the incident in Virginia was even worse: numerous excavations were found at the Petersburg National Battlefield. Basically, somebody thought it was OK to dig up a national monument to one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history just to find some souvenirs that they'll more than likely try to sell. It doesn't get much lower than that. Our veterans deserve a lot more respect.


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