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Die-Hards

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July 2017

Most folks thought it would happen sometime between when pigs could fly and hell froze over. Since 1908, the Chicago Cubs had always found a way to lose. Many years, they were out of contention by early June. In a few others, they got thisclose. In 1945, they even made it to the World Series, but lost to the Tigers. They were the Lovable Losers, a nickname that absolutely fit. The Cubs were the butt of more jokes than any team, anywhere.

While most folks laughed, doubted, or did both, die-hard Cub fans never gave up. They believed it would happen; they refused to let go of the dream. So when the Cubs recorded that third out in game seven of last year’s Series, the die-hards began to celebrate as never before. But fittingly, they also took the time to remember. They remembered the players, managers, and coaches who for years had played so hard to win, only to lose. Even more, they remembered their fellow die-hards from the past—parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors—people who didn’t get to see that final out. Those scenes of Cub fans visiting the graves of their loved ones were among the most poignant in American sports.

How readily we forget the dead. In our face-paced world, how quickly we stop thinking about those who came and went before us. We fail to remember their accomplishments, the little and big things they did that make our lives so much easier. Centuries ago, people crossed vast oceans to reach an unknown land, and did so on nothing more than a hope and a dream that they would find something better. Some never made it off the boats. Those who did began to dot the shorelines, and then moved further in. They explored, and they put down roots where things looked promising. Settlement became colonies, and colonies became states. Over the years, those forgotten people blazed new trails, built highways, founded churches, established schools, constructed hospitals, and organized businesses of all kinds—the very things we now so take for granted. They did it on a dream, a dream that they could provide a good life for themselves, their families, and for generations they’d never meet.

Those dreams became reality because our forbearers had the freedom to make them happen. Freedom didn’t come easy. It never does. The original signers of our Declaration of Independence knew that they were signing away their lives. If their efforts failed, they would be convicted of treason and hung by the necks until they were dead. But for them, the birth of a free country was worth life itself. “O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!”

Throughout our country’s history, others have been called to make the ultimate sacrifice. Freedom must be defended—or the dream dies. So ordinary citizens left their homes, their families, and all they held dear. Many did it out of a true sense of patriotism. Many others did it because they would not shirk from the call. They fought for their country; they fought for the freedom and safety of the buddies on either side of them. Many died, and they died hard. They died before they ever got off boats, or hit beaches, or were able to raise weapons in self-defense. They died in flames, or in water, or in pieces. They died on hills and roadways, or in deserts, forests, and jungles. They died in prison camps. They all died hard, really hard.

We hold that they died in defense of freedom that the dream could remain a reality. And for this surely did. But sadly, we are losing sight of what freedom means. In the past, it has always meant the ability to do what is objectively good in pursuit of what is objectively good. For freedom to be freedom, it must be grounded in a morality recognizing that we are not self-created. We came from God and have responsibilities to each other. But today, some profess that freedom means whatever we want it to mean in the moment, that we can do whatever we want no matter how badly it hurts others. And do it for profit.

The case in point, of course, is Planned Parenthood, which annually receives over one-half billion dollars in taxpayer funding. That funding is being threatened, and PP and its defenders are howling. They argue that PP provides badly needed health care to women, things like mammograms and cancer screenings. They claim that PP empowers women. But all that talk hides the real reason: abortion. There’s plenty of proof. The Trump administration offered to increase funding to Planned Parenthood if it would stop performing abortions. It refused. Mammograms? Planned Parenthood doesn’t do them. As for cancer screening, its latest report shows that they are down 66%; breast exams are down 63.5%. But abortions are up 13%. It’s all about abortion because it’s all about money: over 328,000 annually at an average of $450 each—about $14.7 million. Yet we continue the funding.

Our country was founded on the truths that all human life is sacred and all humans have an inalienable right to live in freedom. Our many dead were killed in defense of those truths. But for the last 44 years, our official government policy is that we have “freedom” to kill the unborn. So the question is this: would our fallen heroes have allowed themselves to be so brutally stripped of life so that Planned Parenthood can be “free” to so brutally rip apart unborn babies for profit? Freedom is something we die for. Do we think they died for that? Would you? We cannot insult our fallen dead any worse than we are doing right now.

Enter the die-hards. Actually, they’ve been around for a long time. They continue to believe in the dream. They don’t get government funding, but it doesn’t matter to them. They proclaim the message of life, and take the abuse that goes along with it. When they can do nothing more than silently witness to the tragedy, they do. And some lay down their lives. They do it because they believe in what Americans have professed to be: people of life. Each of us, born or unborn, has a right to be here. Having lived the reality, they seek it for the unborn of this and all generations. Because for the unborn, tomorrow remains but a dream.

 

Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.

© Paul V. Esposito 2017. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/ and on Facebook.

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