Pete Riehm
Our fallen fought not just for freedom but truth
By Pete Riehm
May 21, 2024

Another Memorial Day is upon us. Americans will dutifully and rightly gather or pause next Monday to honor and remember those who gave that “last full measure of devotion” in defense of this great nation to preserve freedom for all Americans. The United States was founded and forged on the noble tradition of patriots serving selflessly and sometimes sacrificing their lives to protect our Constitutional Republic that enshrines our God given rights as immutable.

The fact our rights come from God is vital to lasting freedom. It means no man or government can interfere with any individuals’ rights; it is the bedrock of freedom. Those individual rights are so crucial that our wise founders codified them in the Bill of Rights. Chief among them is the freedom of speech declared in the First Amendment. However, our understanding of freedom of speech has become warped over the past few decades; we have lost sight that the goal was and is that the truth will emerge and be known.

Freedom of speech certainly means that everyone has the right to freely express themselves no matter whether their ideas are offensive or just plain dumb. Citizens should be heard but not necessarily heeded. Just because one citizen speaks does not obligate another citizen to listen. The concept is that all can speak, but there should be an ensuing vigorous debate in pursuit of the truth.

The disturbing development in recent decades is that whatever nonsense is espoused must be given credence. We have somehow twisted freedom of speech to mean we must let absurdities stand unchallenged. We have forgotten that ideas or opinions must have merit, or they should be defeated and rejected. Leftists have the right to say boys can be girls, but that by no means makes it acceptable or true. Again, freedom of speech includes the inherent obligation to seek the truth.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker and devout Catholic, Harrison Butker, gave a particularly pointed commencement address at Benedictine College in Kansas. He spoke passionately about the sanctity of life, masculinity, motherhood, and more. He extolled orthodox Catholic values, but his point was to call out the church for being lukewarm and call on believers to not only stand for their beliefs but also resist detrimental beliefs contrary to Catholicism.

Butker admonished listeners to not let lies stand about abortion or LGBTQ+ because they injure the deceived and misled. Being polite to falsehood leaves the lost in darkness or as he put it “stop pretending the church of nice is a winning proposition.” He mentioned we have a president that claims to be Catholic yet aggressively and openly supports abortion, and that Biden even made the sign of the cross at a pro-abortion rally. So, Butker postulated that by his pathetic example confused Americans might believe you can be Catholic and pro-choice. Butker implored his audience to reject such deception and stand for truth in Christ.

Like anyone else making conservative pronouncements publicly, Butker was immediately scorned by the media and leftists howled that he be cancelled. The woke mob was shocked he gave a Catholic speech at a Catholic college. The NFL quickly distanced themselves; and Kansas City Star sportswriter, Peter Hamm, demanded the Chiefs be pressured to replace Butker with a female kicker (a dig at Butker’s assertion that motherhood is a woman’s highest aspiration). Hamm lampooned Butker for his “outdated comments;” and went on to say we can ignore “backward cultural views” if you keep them to yourself.

Does that sound like freedom of speech?! There are two very troubling problems growing in America. Leftists insist that anyone who dissents from their progressive socialist dogma must be silenced if not cancelled; and conservatives have come to erroneously believe part of free speech is to allow leftist propaganda to go unopposed.

Everyone has the right to express themselves even if silly or completely wrong, but any idea or opinion should be challenged and tested for truth. To do otherwise does not fulfill the principle of freedom of speech. The goal is to establish truth not just to let everyone spread whatever nonsense. Ideas and opinions often start out popular or unpopular but through public vetting they rise or fall on merit because only truth benefits society.

This is not just some esoteric academic exercise. We are learning that free speech without the pursuit of truth is dangerous. Just this past week, faculty and students protesting at Harvard chanted “Intifada come to America!” Granted many of these overeducated dolts don’t understand what they are protesting, but “Intifada” according to Hamas is a call for violence against Jews to annihilate Israel. So, we have Americans asserting we should kill all Jews!!! That is NOT free speech, but cowardice by those who don’t vehemently reject such evil.

That was Butker’s point. To allow others to misrepresent Catholicism is to shirk your duty as a Catholic in Christ. And so too, to allow leftist lies to dominate and permeate our culture is to shirk our duties as American citizens. Our fallen military heroes did not fight and die for this country to create one unending gripe session for every falsehood and fetish. They fought for freedom so that the people could have a voice in the pursuit of justice and truth.

Memorial Day is perhaps our most important and also our most overlooked holiday. Americans appreciate the service of our military and especially those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, but we do not honor them if we do not exercise our rights and uphold the precepts of free speech in the pursuit of truth. Freedom cannot be maintained on falsehoods.

The tremendous sacrifices of our fallen should be enough to impel us to our solemn duty as citizens to uphold the timeless principles of our Constitution, but thanks to a young football player for reminding us that freedom of speech requires courage and conviction in pursuit of truth, the foundation of faith and freedom.

Commemorate this Memorial Day by exercising your rights as an American citizen; that’s what they died for.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16

Pete Riehm is a conservative activist and columnist in south Alabama. Email him at or read all his columns at

© Pete Riehm


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Click to enlarge

Pete Riehm

Born to German immigrants, Pete Riehm grew up in Texas as a first generation American. Working his way through college, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After graduating from the University of Houston, Pete was commissioned into the United States Navy through Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He also earned a Master's Degree in National Security from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas... (more)


Receive future articles by Pete Riehm: Click here

More by this author


Stephen Stone
HAPPY EASTER: A message to all who love our country and want to help save it

Stephen Stone
The most egregious lies Evan McMullin and the media have told about Sen. Mike Lee

Siena Hoefling
Protect the Children: Update with VIDEO

Stephen Stone
FLASHBACK to 2020: Dems' fake claim that Trump and Utah congressional hopeful Burgess Owens want 'renewed nuclear testing' blows up when examined

Jerry Newcombe
A politically-incorrect prayer

Victor Sharpe
Who truly deserves a state? The Kurds or the Palestinians?

Pete Riehm
Father's Day: When men sing!

Cherie Zaslawsky
RFK Jr.: The silver-tongued spoiler

Randy Engel
A documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part VIII

Linda Goudsmit
CHAPTER 22: What Is Social Justice?

Stephen Stone
A Song for Independence Day: ‘Have You Been To My Hometown?’

Rev. Mark H. Creech
From ancient idols to modern misconceptions: The call to worship only God

Michael Bresciani
Pride Month – Are we proud of the decimation, disfigurement, and death of children?

Tom DeWeese
The second great Colorado land grab

Matt C. Abbott
Dealing with the Dobbs backlash

Ronald R. Cherry
Book Review: Left Imperialism – From Cardinal Richelieu to Klaus Schwab, by Gary Gindler
  More columns


Click for full cartoon
More cartoons


Matt C. Abbott
Chris Adamo
Russ J. Alan
Bonnie Alba
Chuck Baldwin
Kevin J. Banet
J. Matt Barber
Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
. . .
[See more]

Sister sites