By: Jeff Lyons
I served in the United States Navy for over eight years because I believe the American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are worth defending and dying for.
I deployed with a helicopter search and rescue squadron onboard the USS Ronald Reagan and later served as a Navy recruiter. Through my experiences deployed at sea and on shore as a recruiter of young men and women, I came to know not only why I chose to join the military but also why hundreds of other young men and women choose to do the same.
To put it simply: We believe in fighting for liberty. We believe that America is the greatest country on Earth. And we want to protect it.
But I never imagined that I would also wind up defending my constitutional rights here at home, on my college campus.
When I left the service, I started taking classes at Bunker Hill Community College in my hometown. There, I was shocked to find myself an outcast for supporting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – especially when it came to free speech.
Basically, I tried forming a Young Americans for Liberty chapter on campus and received what amounted to a pocket veto. So, I took action.
I organized a group of students to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution. Because this was not allowed under the “Student Code of Conduct,” the campus police were sent to come and stop us, threatening us with arrest.
Let that sink in for a moment… We were threatened with arrest for handing out copies of the Constitution.
Thankfully, we didn’t end up in jail. But it did enlighten us to see how unconstitutional our school’s policies were. We learned that the “Student Code of Conduct” gave college administrators unbridled power to censor free speech and association in a place that is supposed to be the “marketplace of ideas.”
That’s why we reached out to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The attorneys at ADF stepped in to help us change those rules at our college and at every public community college in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Upon entrance into service, we take an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and lay down our lives if need be. Making this ultimate sacrifice in the service of others is one of the greatest honors one can imagine.
By standing up to my college, I was upholding that oath. But there are many others who have sacrificed much more.
Memorial Day is not a day for veterans like myself, but for the men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty in service to our country.
Memorial Day is a time to think about the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen we’ve lost. It’s a time to think about what we ask our military service members to lay down their lives for. It’s a time to think about those service members who have not yet given their lives—those who will perish in the future.
It’s a time to think about what it really means to look a living service member in the eyes and thank them for being willing to lay down their lives for us.
While you enjoy this long weekend with family members and count down the days until summer comes, please take some time to remember those who gave their lives because they believed in the freedoms and opportunities that this country has provided for its people.
And let’s do our part to help preserve those freedoms and opportunities here at home.