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  • Writer's pictureRaymond Niblock

Memorial Day: A Personal Reflection

Updated: May 27

Today I’m sitting with my dogs on the back porch. It is a quiet day. As I sit here, I find myself reflecting on the significance of this day and the sacrifices and commitments it honors. My own journey into adulthood began with a commitment: I took an oath in May of 1986 as a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserve, pledging to support and defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. It was not an oath to a person, leader, man or woman. It was an oath to support our Constitution which is, in an of itself, an idea.

For 14 years, I served in the reserves, and early on, I pursued a degree in law. Upon becoming a lawyer (now 30 years ago), I affirmed my commitment to our nation’s foundational principles by reciting an oath to uphold both the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Arkansas. “I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Arkansas, and I will faithfully perform the duties of attorney at law.” It was not lost on me then, nor is it lost on me now, that the Constitution of the United States has a place of primacy in that oath. It is first. First to country, then to state.

When I took the oaths, I believed them. I still do. I believed them then, and I believe them today. Today, my experiences in life have profoundly continued shaping my understanding of the freedoms and protections I, and so many others, often take for granted. The Constitution, a living document, has safeguarded my rights and enabled me to lead a life of dignity and freedom. It allowed me to marry the love of my life without fear of criminal indictment. It protected my career, especially when my opinions diverged from those in power when I fought for those mentioned in our Arkansas Attorney’s Oath: “I will not reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the impoverished, the defenseless, or the oppressed.”

Today, as an author on top of being an attorney, I relish the freedom to share my writings and publish my thoughts without fear of government reprisal. People may not agree with my opinions, but I am safe from government reprisal, and this is a privilege often taken for granted. This privilege, among so many, is integral to my life, and is the direct result of the sacrifices made by countless men and women in military service.

So today, I take a moment to remember. Memorial Day is a time for me remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. These individuals who went before us did not lay down their lives for their states, their football teams, or their cultural preferences. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their mates and for an idea enshrined in the Constitution—the idea of freedom. While we may debate the rightness or wrongness of the causes for which our government has committed our young men and women, the fact remains that these brave individuals stepped forward, took an oath, and laid down their lives because they made a promise to the rest of us. This selfless act underscores the preciousness of the freedoms we enjoy today.

Above all, Memorial Day is a reminder of the rights we cherish most: the right of dissent, the right of free thought, belief, opinion, and the assurance that our government will not come for us as long as we remain a nation of laws. These freedoms are not mere abstractions; they are the very fabric of our daily lives, woven ever more tightly because of the sacrifices of those who served and died for the cause of freedom.

As we commemorate this Memorial Day, let us honor the memory of those who have gone before us. Let us remember that we owe everything to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Their legacy is a testament to the enduring strength of our nation and the freedoms that define us. May we never forget the cost of our liberty and always strive to uphold the principles for which so many have given their lives.

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