In Your Opinion: Mayor’s Speech At Community Vigil

Mayor Phil Kramer.

 By Mayor Phil Kramer, East Millstone.

Thank you Alex for your kind words and I’d like to thank all the folks at St. Matthias and others who have helped organize this event.  But most of all I would like to thank all of you for being here today.  At this time of great peril, you are the true patriots, the true defenders of freedom in our nation. As I look out before me I don’t see liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, black, white, brown, native or immigrant, Jew, Muslim or Christian, gender or sexual orientation, or any of the labels the forces of hate used to divide us.  No, what I see are Americans, a people who when the times are dark and frightening, when hate has gathered like storm clouds on the horizon, rise up together as equals, as brothers and sisters, and defeat hate.

Over 200 years ago this nation was born of an experiment in certain unalienable rights, an idea based on the universal nature of freedom.  To be sure we have stumbled along the way but we have always endeavored to pick ourselves up and make progress in expanding that notion of freedom.  Not far from here George Washington and a small band of patriots hunkered down in the Watchung Mountains. These men and women were not perfect.  They were flesh and blood like you and I.  But they transcended their mortal imperfections by risking their own safety, and sometimes sacrificing their lives, to give birth to this nation, a nation that throughout history has been a beacon of hope for humanity, a nation that has never recoiled from fighting evil at home or abroad, a nation that believes in the rule of law, a nation that has always been the last, great refuge for those yearning for freedom and liberty.

I am reminded on this day of another dark time in our nation’s history, another time when liberty and freedom were at stake, when the very fate of humanity was at stake, when a great evil was met and defeated by the American people and its allies.  Not since the American Civil War, a war to defeat white supremacy, has this nation faced a challenge as daunting as the Nazis in World War II.  But the Nazis misjudged the American people by thinking that we held our freedom lightly and would choose comfort over it.  They, like the Confederates before them, were wrong.

America endured over 400,000 dead and 600,000 wounded fighting fascism in World War II.  Now, we are gathered here to face a new challenge from fascism and hate, this time not on foreign fields, but on our own soil. I cannot imagine a greater disservice to those brave men and women who gave their lives fighting fascism over 70 years ago than to stand on a street in Charlottesville waving the swastika and screaming “Heil Hitler”. And yet these forces of hate did just that, and more incredibly with the tacit approval of some of our nation’s highest leaders.

I stand before you as a public servant, a former Air Force pilot, a Jew, an American, and say we cannot sit idly by and let fascism and hate destroy this nation as it has others throughout history. It is not enough to decry hate, we must resist it. If we do not, we dishonor the sacrifices of every man and women that has expanded liberty in this nation, everyone who has kept love and hope in their heart when faced with violent rhetoric, everyone who has chosen the rule of law over lawlessness in the streets, and everyone that has done their part to ensure that this nation remains a sanctuary for those who seek freedom from oppression.

Now is our time, our time to step up as others have before us and fight evil, not with fists and guns, not with fists and guns, but with the steadfast belief that humanity was not made to live without liberty, not made to live without democracy, not made to live without compassion or without the rule of law.

Now is the time to look evil in the face and say, “YOU SHALL GO NO FURTHER.”  Now is the time to look to your left and to your right and say “I will stand with you until we have won.”  Now is the time to remember America has always been great. And I know we will win, because hate has no chance when faced by courageous people who keep love and freedom in their hearts.


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