Terrorism again has violently rocked our country with the deaths of scores of people in Orlando, making it the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. While Congress endlessly “debates” making those semi-automatic high capacity mayhem makers a bit harder to get than a ticket to Hamilton, we await the next avoidable tragedy. Rightful concerns for our safety, security, and liberty on this 4th of July should cause us to remember the true patriots--those who actually need weapons of that kind and stand in harm’s way protecting our security and liberty.
Americans celebrate their liberty in peace with parades, picnics and fireworks on the 4th of July because, as Churchill said, “rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” At great personal and financial sacrifice, our new army of part-time citizen soldiers leaves their good paying jobs at the hospital, factory, bank, or local school because duty calls. They sacrifice their safety and security for our safety and security.
Their sacrifice is never more apparent than in Afghanistan. Our 10,000 troops there represent just a tiny fraction of the 150,000 U.S. military personnel stationed all over the world, but their service is some of the most challenging and important. Despite expectations to be out of Afghanistan by now, Taliban insurgents continue to be a powerful adversary keeping U.S. soldiers involved in this war for far longer than they have ever been involved in any war. As Jefferson taught us, eternal vigilance is the price we pay for liberty.
It will be hotter than hell and equally inhospitable in Afghanistan this 4th of July. The chance of rain, as it has been for many weeks now, is zero. In the western and southern regions of Afghanistan, a northerly wind, known as “The Wind of 120 Days,” blows throughout these summer months creating sand and dust storms a mile high and wide with winds over 100 miles per hour. The winds are both a blessing and a curse, offering some relief from the intense heat, yet making it difficult to see and breathe, turning loose objects into deadly missiles. For our soldiers it is just another ugly day battling another hard to see enemy. Even the sunsets are ugly there.
So this 4th of July, let our thoughts and prayers be with those who protect us at home and abroad, as we celebrate in the comfort won for us through their blood, sweat, and sacrifice. In the wake of Orlando, let us renew our conviction that the hard won freedoms we enjoy will never be defeated through fear or violence but maintained through eternal vigilance. And as we watch the night sky explode with fireworks marking the birth of our nation, let us honor the founding democratic principles written by our first citizen soldiers. Congress, like our first patriots who put partisanship aside at great sacrifice, must be equally vigilant and stop easy access to weapons with the capacity to do so much damage far too quickly.
Michael L. Coyne is the Dean and a Professor of Law at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. He can be reached at Coyne@mslaw.edu 978.681.0800. Diane Sullivan is an Assistant Dean and Professor of Law at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. She can be reached at Dianes@mslaw.edu 978.681.0800.