A mourner holds up an American flag and a candle during a vigil for a fatal shooting at an Orlando nightclub, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The Ghosts of Independence

“Intrinsically it is but a barren, war-worn rock, hallowed as so many places are by death and disaster. Yet it symbolizes within itself that priceless, deathless thing, the honor of a nation. Until we claim again the ghastly remnants of its last gaunt garrison, we can but stand humble supplicants before Almighty God. There lies our Holy Grail.”

General Douglas MacArthur, upon the surrender of Corregidor and Bataan

There will be fireworks tonight. I’ll go out and enjoy them with my family as I have since my children were small. This year will be different, however. For the first time in my life, I will wonder what we are celebrating. We’re certainly not celebrating freedom or independence in the way our parents and grandparents knew it. After all, the entirety of our populace is currently ruled by four black robed, unelected, jurists who sometimes are often tyrannical.  Most recently they passed down from on high that there is some mythical constitutional right that abortion must also include the risk of butchery (i.e. Kermit Gosnell) and that making the macabre procedure more sanitary and safe is somehow a violation of the Constitution. In the same week, these leftist activists refused to hear an important religious freedom case that prompted Justice Alito to write, “Those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.”

The quote above came after MacArthur was ordered to leave Corregidor and the collection of cooks, mechanics, pilots whose planes had been shot down, seamen whose ships had been sunk and some civilian volunteers who had served as his “infantry” in defense of Bataan. And what a defense it was. Dealing with daily torrential downpours, nearly impenetrable jungles, without food or medical supplies, they fended off 20,000 Nipponese troops while living off of roots, leaves and occasionally monkey meat.  They waited for reinforcements that would never come…would never even be sent. After MacArthur’s quote above, as a reward for their valor, these fighting men would face the Bataan Death March.

This Independence Day I am haunted by the ghosts of the casualties of battles like Bataan, Valley Forge, Hamburger Hill, Omaha Beach, Fallujah and the Chosin Reservoir. I am haunted because I can’t help but think that they are furious with my generation. Would they have fought so viciously and sacrificially if they’d known that we would roll over and give up our freedom, without so much as a struggle?

MacArthur was referring to a rock…a piece of land, but more than that he was referring to the national honor that piece of land represented. Remember the sailors that were taken hostage last year in the Persian Gulf? This week the Navy held a press conference in which they stated that a loss of morale led these seamen and their commander to make a series of mistakes that led to their capture. Ultimately it led to the release of far more information than the Navy code of conduct permits. Is it any wonder that morale was low when the sailors’ humiliation was preceded by Obama’s agreement to pay Iran twelve billion dollars of taxpayer money, all while the GOP led Congress fiddled? Is the honor of this nation any less at stake when the international viewing of American sailors on their knees at gunpoint was followed by John Kerry giving thanks to Iran for the treatment of the sailors? How do we inspire young men and women to fight for freedom when they know full well that freedom is daily being ceded on the home front?

We as citizens thought getting more informed would be enough. We thought if we voted correctly things would turn around. But if this presidential race has taught us anything, it should have jolted us from our delusions. All the conservative think tanks we’ve donated to, the candidates we volunteered for, the columns we have written and read, the hours of talk radio we listened to, haven’t been enough. We are losing the Republic that the “Bastards of Bataan” fought to preserve. At first the Republic was chipped away in tiny pieces. Now it’s being smashed away in large chunks.

This election cycle, ending up with two horrible Presidential candidates (one of whom is probably a traitor) has convinced me that the old tactics have failed us. I no longer believe that helping get GOP candidates elected can save the country. The primaries are very nearly a rigged game, manipulated by those who have been in power a long time and wish to remain so (the establishment) at all costs. Likewise, the media and the GOP are only able to work together for a few weeks every couple of years, during primary season when they share a common enemy…conservatism.

A couple of weeks ago in this space I alluded to the need for individual acts of valor. I think that those acts must manifest themselves in some type of major push for state’s rights. I am not sure yet if that means an Article Five convention of the States, or merely states actually exercising their existing Tenth Amendment rights. Nine years ago, I had never written a political column. I wrote about matters of the Christian faith, the heart and stories to make people laugh. Around 2007 I decided to turn the focus of my writing toward the political. I wanted to play a small part in articulating a Christian/conservative worldview back into political discussions. At the same time I volunteered with my local GOP office, eventually working on a winning campaign team at the state level. It hasn’t been enough. We must do more. We must move more boldly. There are legal, non-violent means of redress at our disposal. We must pursue them.

How ironic that on this Independence Day, the empire that we once fought so desperately for our freedom, now provides us with precisely the example of courage we need. Brexit should be our model. True independence from the federal behemoth must be our goal.  So this year, instead of letting the fireworks be a tribute to the ghost of independence that has passed away, I’ll let them be a celebration for a new birth of freedom yet to come. I hope you will too.


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Chris Skates

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