What Do We Honor this Memorial Day?

Phil Jensen


What do we honor on Memorial Day? Do we honor ourselves and our own priorities and pet interests?  Do we honor a political party or apparatus? Do we honor our current leaders, or pop culture icons?

Most people would rightly say that we honor our military servicemen and women who have put their lives on the line to protect and preserve our American way of life.  But what we honor on Memorial Day, if we observe this day in its full solemnity, goes even beyond those who sacrificed all…to that for which they sacrificed their lives in the first place. After all, unless we are careless, we cannot recognize those who gave their lives without recognizing what they gave their lives for–not a person, not a party, not the leaders of a party, not elected officials, not even a piece of land, but a set of ideas and values that make America distinct from any other people on earth.

I had a very illustrative exchange with a liberal “Republican” (several of them, actually, plus one or two out-of-the-closet liberals) at the South Dakota War College blog over the weekend.

Rick Kriebel 2016


As some of you may know, despite the fact that the South Dakota legislature is in Republican hands with a 73% margin in the House and 86% in the Senate, a lot of conservative, textbook-Republican bills have repeatedly been shot down in the past couple of years…and some disturbing ObamaCare legislation has doggedly gone forward in this “Republican” legislature.

In response to this hostility toward the Republican agenda from the “Republican” controlled legislature, several conservative groups around the state produced several legislative scorecards last year to identify which legislators were doing a good job representing Republican values, and which ones were not. Rather than use the scorecards as a tool to improve, many “Republicans” met them with belligerent hostility, even going so far as to openly show contempt for the GOP platform. Some “Republicans” even consider whatever the governor wants to be more important than the stated values and priorities of their party.

After a particularly contentious legislative session just past where fake Republicans threw Republicans most dedicated to upholding the party platform out of their caucus,  this past week “Republican” Governor Dennis Daugaard upped the ante in the RINO war on the Republican base by endorsing several liberal “Republicans” over those who clearly better represent Republican values.  In response, several committed Republicans and I have strongly denounced this reprehensible behavior, and the embrace of liberalism in general by many in the party.

Woodrow Wilcox


One of the most vocal RINOs in South Dakota, Troy Jones, was apparently hurt by being called out for his fondness for the opposition’s agenda, and wrote a defense of his deeds. Troy was trying to convince other (and perhaps himself) that just because he holds some liberal positions that are contrary to Republican values, and that just because he routinely befriends and defends liberals far more than he does the conservatives who staunchly defend Republican values, that he is–despite these things–really, in fact, a “real Republican.”

My exchange with these liberals was very illustrative, not only because it exposed even more clearly the liberal tendencies of some people who claim not to be liberal, but because it served to highlight some very dangerous and misleading deceptions going on out there in pop culture and in the political world. I honestly find it hard to believe that adult, educated people could be as dense as some of these people seem to be, but then the Bible does speak of a spiritual blindness that comes upon those who reject the truth in favor of what is comfortable to them, rendering them unable to see truth even when it is clearly placed before them. It is doubtful any of them could grasp the truth even after the exposition I am beginning here, but there are those who are already open to the truth, and even the liberals may someday, by the work of God’s Holy Spirit, come to a place where they can “get it.”

The unfortunate reality is that we have “Republicans” in our state government who say one thing and do the complete opposite–and as is always the case, we are truly known by our fruits .  They say they oppose something, then resist all efforts to stop it. They say they support something, then resist all efforts to do it. This is often not only in contradiction to Christian values or American values or conservative values, but even the clearly articulated and documented values of their own party.

For example…

  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “The South Dakota Republican Party supports the right of immigrants to enter our country legally and also supports the right of legal immigrants to work in our state. It is the responsibility of the Federal and state government to strongly enforce the current immigration laws and protect our borders“…yet “Republicans” in Pierre resist efforts for our state to do what our federal government refuses to do and deal with this very real problem.


  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “The South Dakota Republican Party believes the free flow of information empowers and energizes a republic and serves to keep the process of government honest and robust,” yet “Republicans” behave like Democrats who typically want to hide their liberal voting records and resist efforts to make very simple changes in the legislative website which would make it easier for South Dakotans to see the voting records of their elected representatives. Our state’s transparency was recently issued a failing grade.


  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “The South Dakota Republican Party believes in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, gender, age or ability,” yet some “Republicans” have resisted efforts to ensure Shariah law (a vicious threat to equal rights and justice that is already encroaching in other areas of the United States) does not gain a foot hold here.


  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “The South Dakota Republican Party opposes all embryonic stem cell research,” yet some “Republicans” continually push for this unnecessary destruction of innocent human life.


  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “The Party supports our heritage of religious freedom and personal responsibility,” yet some “Republicans” in Pierre made it clear that they did not want to interfere with the drug use of a welfare recipient (who is receiving taxpayer funds) who is suspected of using recreational drugs. This is not only an affront to stewardship of the taxpayers interest, it is also a mockery of the idea of personal responsibility as well as dereliction of duty to the welfare of children jeopardized by their parents’ drug use.


  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “The South Dakota Republican Party supports the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools and opposes deletions, changes or amendments to the Pledge. The Party supports the display of the South Dakota Motto – ‘Under God, the People Rule’ in our schools. The Party also supports display of the Ten Commandments in our schools” as well as saying “The South Dakota Republican Party recognizes that our country was founded in faith upon the truth that self-government is rooted in religious convictions,” yet many “Republicans” make their complete contempt for our Christian heritage loudly known with derisive language about “theocrats,” “religious kooks,” “religious fanatics” and such any time traditional values are mentioned. These “Republicans” (and those who buddy with them) make it clear why the first U.S. Supreme Court Justice, John Jay, said, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.


  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “The South Dakota Republican Party supports the appointment of Federal judges that support a strict constructionist view of the Constitution,” yet many “Republicans” echo liberal claims that the Constitution and other clearly articulated documents are “living” and “open to interpretation” rather than meaning what they obviously say.


  • The most recent South Dakota GOP platform says “We support the concept that individual states should develop and control their own health care plans as determined by local needs and strongly oppose the nationalization of our healthcare system. We strongly support market-based reforms that are consumer-driven and targeted to reducing costs and increasing access” and it also says “The South Dakota Republican Party believes the 21st Century requires continued responsible leadership. Leadership must neither burden nor hinder individual rights and efforts. Leadership must also be mindful of the Republican Platform and the fundamental principles of the Constitution of the United States of America. We believe the most effective and responsible government is government closest to the people. The South Dakota Republican Party believes the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations. The best government is that which governs least.”  ObamaCare is the antithesis of all these things, and yet while some states were doing everything in their power to resist and avoid the implementation of the unconstitutional ObamaCare legislation, South Dakota was going out of its way to facilitate ObamaCare provisions in our state–and repeatedly resisted efforts by some Republicans to fight ObamaCare.

There are even more areas that could be pointed out where there is inconsistency between the Republican positions which affirm marriage and natural sexuality while some “Republicans” slavishly serve the homosexual agenda, or how the GOP opposes abortion and recognizes the sanctity of innocent human life while some “Republicans” seek to do the bidding of the nations’ biggest abortion provider, or how the Republican Party continually affirms Second Amendment rights while some “Republicans” seek to curtail those rights or resist efforts to turn back restrictions on those rights.

In truth, Troy can say he believes in this or believes in that, but as anyone who has watched politics for any amount of time knows, words mean very little–especially to people who are cozy with liberalism. What matters most are our actions. It is easy to say you believe in this or that…but if you oppose this and that when it comes time to advance some legislation in support of this and that, then your words are revealed for the empty shells that they are.  Just as our governor’s words on one hand claims to oppose ObamaCare, while his actions in facilitating ObamaCare in South Dakota, tell a much different story. It’s the old liberal bait-and-switch trick, or the shell game, of “Don’t believe your own eyes; believe what I tell you instead.”

I tried to point out to Troy (or primarily to any rational person who might be reading) that you cannot affirm ideas that are contrary to the goals of your group and still honestly call yourself a member in good standing of that group. I tried to make it clear to Troy (or primarily to any rational person who might be reading) that you cannot be pals with or endorse members of your group who make a mockery of the most important goals of your group, and still call yourself a member in good standing of that group. After all, we don’t consider it reasonable for members of the Dallas Cowboys to help members of the Pittsburgh Steelers make touchdowns…nor do we expect fans of the Denver Broncos to sit in the stands and yell cheers about how good the plays of the Seattle Seahawks are. You don’t expect members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to go out drinking and driving. You don’t expect to get Mountain Dew out of a Pepsi can. And you don’t expect to see liberal policies advanced, or conservative policies stonewalled, by the Republican Party.

It really is no more complex than that. But, of course, when you are determined to have your cake and eat it, too (or in this case, embrace some liberal polices that make you feel good for the moment, or be a good ole boy with some liberals because you enjoy being liked and called “a great guy”), anything that calls you out for your inconsistency is going to prick the conscience.

So why does it even matter whether we’re Democrat or Republican, whether we’re liberal or conservative, whether we stand for traditional American values or we embrace Marxist philosophy, whether we accept Christian values or secular humanism?

It matters because words matter, because words have meaning.  Liberals, who embrace moral relativism the way lawless people embrace anarchy, would have us believe words are nothing more than lumps of clay in our hands to be molded into whatever is most convenient to our purpose at the moment. However, this is an infantile, narcissistic and disingenuous philosophy that simply does not pass even the smell test. If words didn’t matter and ideas didn’t mean anything, a liberal should be just as happy to get a used gum wrapper as they would a $20 bill in exchange for their goods or services.  They likewise should be just as happy to have me come into their home and take their television to be my own, if morals and values do not matter. Of course, we know from experience that the moral relativism that liberals pretend to love so much ends at their own doorstep.

So it really does matter whether a “Christian” behaves in a Christian manner, or whether a “conservative” is committed to conservative values, and whether a “Republican” is committed to Republican values and priorities.

We’ve grown, sadly, to expect a belligerent, anti-American philosophy from liberals and the Democrat Party (pardon the redundancy) that is the antithesis of not only every foundational principle of Americanism but also the Judeo-Christian worldview upon which our nation was founded. What is particularly distressing is when Republicans–members of the party Americans once relied on to stand fast for American values of life, freedom and limited government–embrace these same destructive ideas. Even many who call themselves Christians adopt some or many elements of this bankrupt philosophy. It is dismaying that people who should know the truth could be misled, but the power of deception is often very strong.

At the very least, there are far too many Republicans (and Christians) who are too concerned with “being nice” and “being liked” and are far too cozy with evil. Indeed, many who otherwise might know better have been misled by the liberal lie that (while the Left is free to be as vicious as they’d like) Christians and conservatives are never to get angry, never to be outraged, never to raise their voices…never to do anything except smile like morons and pretend all is well in the universe while God’s gift of America goes down the toilet.

Peer pressure has always been a powerful force to human beings. We have a natural desire to be accepted, to be affirmed, to be included in the group. Unfortunately, evil is very good at creating the perception that it represents the group, and that to be accepted, you must be with them. When you get “with them,” you start to believe the aforementioned lies about being a “nice guy” and being likable.

Actually, if you are a Christian, Christ himself made it clear that those who are committed to evil will never like you or be your friend.  Anyone who points to the standard of good will automatically be hated by those committed to the evil standard. You can’t mix and mix with evil and still be good; it doesn’t take long before a clean hand brushed against a dirty hand becomes a second dirty hand. Unfortunately, some people don’t have what it takes to stand up under that kind of condemnation from the world, and they compromise the standard.

Christ also didn’t mince words or pretend to be oh-so-dispassionate when it came to confronting self-righteous merchants of evil who were intent on dragging others down to Hell with them, either. (I bet Jesus might have even sounded “angry”).  Neither did many of his followers like Elijah and Stephen–they stoned the latter for his honesty.  Jesus also wasn’t afraid to get a little worked up and knock over a few tables when people made a mockery of truth, either (I wonder if mealy-mouthed liberals think Jesus was “un-Christian” when he got mad?). We cannot afford to hate those who are committed to evil, for they are still human beings created in the image of God, for whom Christ died, but we can and we should hate evil, rebuke those who persist in pursuing an agenda of evil, and fight against evil to the best of our ability. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, but it does tell us there is a place for anger (even as God is angry at open rebellion).  As the teacher in Ecclesiastes tells us, there is a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to tear and a time to sew, a time to love and a time to hate…and a time for war and a time for peace. The lie that we must always be smiling and smarmy and pleasant is just that–a lie from the pit of Hell designed to muzzle and restrain those who would rebuke and stand against evil.

Frankly, if you’re not angry that some in our country want to subvert and destroy everything that has made us the greatest nation on earth, you have a serious problem. If you’re not angry at injustice, attacks on freedom, and deception, there’s something profoundly wrong with you. Truthfully, if you aren’t outraged that some within a party once known to stand for truth, freedom and limited government (a party of people who should know better, if anyone should) are now buddying with and endorsing those who oppose freedom, oppose innocent human life, and oppose the values upon which our civilization is founded…if you’re not outraged by that, then there is something deeply wrong with you.  A failure to get angry in the face of such wrong indicates a seriously malfunctioning moral compass–or one broken altogether.

What too many “Republicans” and Christians fail to understand and appreciate is that we are in a war. This is not a disagreement. This is not a difference of opinion on how to best proceed in our culture. This is a war for the very foundation and soul of our state and our nation. Thankfully, it is not a war of bullets and bombs, but it is a war of ideas, of philosophies, of worldviews, of right and wrong, and ultimately of good and evil.  Though no physical violence may trade sides in this war, do not ever be mistaken: it is a war. This is not a game, nor is it a “fun” political contest; it is a real conflict with real dangers. And the stakes for freedom and our way of life are every bit as high as they would be if a foreign enemy were attacking us with bullets and planes and tanks. Just as the American colonists became unable to escape the conclusion that their God-given liberties were under attack and they must fight, so now that way of life they shed blood to preserve is once again in danger; the least we can do in light of their sacrifice is summon a little righteous anger, recognize  that we area already at war whether we like it or not, and get serious about defending what is now in jeopardy.

The reason nations and groups go to war is usually because one side is bent on doing something wrong, and no amount of discussion, dialog, debate, compromise or cajoling (otherwise known as “diplomacy”) will dissuade them from their goals. Sometimes (like the Japanese who engaged in peace talks, even as they were planning for the Pearl Harbor attack) they will act like our friends in order to lull us into inaction, but they are not dissuaded by their dark goals.

When evil people are intent on committing evil acts, they cannot be reasoned with–they can only be defeated. When Japan made it clear they were hostile to our security and our way of life, we didn’t compromise with them, we didn’t “dialog” with them, we didn’t endorse them. We went to war against them with the total commitment to completely defeat them. Back then, it was understood that when you befriended the enemy, giving them aid or comfort or cover, you were siding with the enemy, which makes you the enemy.

We should remember that many times people don’t even realize what they are doing is wrong, or that they are serving an evil purpose. We don’t often expect a lot of wisdom to come out of Hollywood, but a few years ago, actor Will Smith made a profound statement (for which he caught a lot of heat in Hollywood)

“Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today.’ I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ’good.”’

There are some people who know that what they are doing is evil, and they simply don’t care. But probably most people think the evil they do is for a good end.  I am fairly confident that even racist and eugenicist Margaret Sanger thought that her plan to eliminate black Americans though abortion and Planned Parenthood thought she was doing society a favor. You can be as sincere as is humanly possible in your beliefs…and still be sincerely 100% wrong.

Now, can someone who has been committed to the destruction of all we hold dear ever wake up to the harm they are doing, reverse course, and change sides?  Of course. Remember Operation Valkyrie in Nazi Germany? There were many Germans throughout the course of the war who came to realize they were on the wrong side, and came to help us defeat the Nazi regime.  People can and do wake up in the midst of this “culture war” and switch sides. We’ve seen liberals like Dennis Miller, who got a cold bucket of reality tossed in his face on 911, who have come a long way toward fully embracing what is right. I used live a life of debauchery, and was even pro-abortion until I opened my eyes and looked beyond the propaganda being foisted on me by the “mainstream” media.

There may always be a few who are currently on the side of wrong who have been misled but will have open minds when presented with the truth. We must always extend a lifeline of truth and hope to such people. Unfortunately, the majority on the Left are not only not interested the truth, they are completely hostile to it. They understand the truth well enough to realize that it is an impediment to their dark desires, and they will do everything to resist it, subvert it, mislead others from it, and if possible, eradicate it. Given the incredible power of God’s Holy Spirit to reach the “unreachable,” we can always hope that someday they will accept the truth. But in the meantime, we must act, and we must act based on the real threat they pose to what is good and right and true, and be resolved to defeat them.

This Memorial Day, we should remember those who have fought and sacrificed for our freedom, who gave some and in many cases gave all to preserve this unique, God-given away of life we know in America.

At the same time, we need to take hold of the idea that the battle is not over. Even though the cannons are now silent, we still fight for life, for liberty, and for all that God has blessed us with in this gift we know as “America.”

It’s time to quit sitting on the fence or straddling it. It’s time to decide whether we’re going to fight for freedom and the American way of life, or whether we’re going to join the Left in trying to tear it down in favor of their glorious socialist revolution. It’s time to stop paling around with those who are trying to undermine all we hold dear, and get comfortable with the reality of being called “mean” and “a hater” and “angry,” to be called “nuts” and a “kook” for recognizing the danger (and worse, for having the temerity to insist that something be done about it), and other such empty shells of the Left.  It’s time to man up, cowboy up, saddle up, and lock and load.

We should take hold of a resolution to eschew evil, to determine not to be friends or friendly with it, but instead stand firm against it. If nothing else, we owe it to the memory of those who gave so much in the past to preserve what we now have…and we owe it to our posterity, who deserves to lay claim to the same blessings of liberty God first bestowed on us hundreds of years ago.

Let us mourn those we have lost on the battlefield for freedom, mourn that which we have lost on the ideological and political battlefield, and then resolve to surrender no more ground to lies, falsehoods and deception in our fight to maintain the last, best hope of earth.



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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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