Thoughts of Memorial Day, Freedom and Democracy

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Opinions

Stainless steel statues of US servicemen at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo by Brittany Colette

Thoughts of Memorial Day, Freedom and Democracy

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Opinions

Stainless steel statues of US servicemen at the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC. Photo by Brittany Colette

I was thinking about my father yesterday. He served in a MASH unit in Korea and it really cost him, not his life at the time but he was beaten down by the ugliness of war. The enemy there was totalitarianism, I suppose, and many US soldiers lost their lives fighting to keep Korea free. Many others lost their lives as well.

You could say we had a large but limited success; South Korea would not likely exist today but for that sacrifice, that help. At least that seems to be the case. And I am proud of what my father did in that effort.

The wars we have fought on foreign soil, at least the big ones, all had that common thread: The growth of freedom, and a unified fight against dictatorships. We envisioned—regardless of what other aims our leaders might have had—that when the sacrifice was done, the people of that land would be freer, more capable of determining their own destinies, able to have Democratic institutions and the rule of law rather than the rule of a totalitarian regime, whether that regime was Fascist in nature or in some other form.

We fought to free people. And while it wasn’t pretty and we made some terrible mistakes, unimaginable mistakes that were destructive in ways that can never be and should never be forgotten, we did, at great sacrifice, make these freedoms happen. Europe, Japan and many other countries would live in an unimaginable world but for our intervention, our help. We succeeded in making the world greater.

And this is the legacy of that sacrifice, the sacrifice of my father and all our forebears who stood up and tried to make the world a little be better. This is why we remember, because they fought, survived and died in a just cause. To make others free and to keep us free.


Why do so many in our nation now fight to limit the freedom of our people right here? How does that make us better? How does that make us greater? How does eroding trust in our very soul benefit us as a people, make us more free?

Disagreement is one thing but if the price of winning that argument is the destruction of our country and the rise of a country ruled by One, by a person and not a system of laws that protect the lowliest of us, is that price worth it?

I do not see how it can be worth the price and how those who are refusing to look at the very heart of the problem can do so.

The only level I can understand, a sad justification, is that low level that exists only because of the limits deliberately imposed on data and truth. The level of propaganda and the fact that we are being manipulated by clever enemies that yearn for our destruction and have found our weakness in our strength.

They have discovered that our desire to help others can be perverted and controlled. They have discovered that our internal differences can be amplified to such a point that we are no longer one people, but two. They are creating a Civil War.

I feel that we are again at war, right this minute, but now we are not seeing our true enemy. Dust has been thrown in our eyes and we are flailing wildly at ourselves when there is a foreign despot singing a siren’s song and leading us off a cliff.

This grand experiment has given us a chance. Let’s not blow it.

Peter Kjenaas

Peter Kjenaas

Peter Kjenaas is an author, screenwriter, theater director, producer, chef, AirBnB host, parent and caregiver extraordinaire. But first and foremost he is a caring and productive human who has graciously allowed us to post some of his writings to this site. See his latest book at

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