I Honor My Dead Buddies by Remembering Why We Enlisted

Adam Kokesh, Memorial Day 2019
Written on behalf of the Libertarian Veteran Caucus

When I enlisted in the Marines I told everyone I was joining out of patriotism and I had a cute little speech about it that led everyone who heard it to blow smoke up my ass. It felt … really good. But beneath that, I was joining for the right reasons. I just wanted to be a part of the national defense, for whatever small part of it I was and whatever short period of time. And it meant something to me to be in a combat role and part of the Marine Corps. You know, ‘first to fight’ and all that. I wanted to put my life on the line for something I believed in.

Then I saw Full Metal Jacket. As one character, Joker, says about why he joined, “I wanted to be the first kid on my block to get a confirmed kill.” Before I even stepped on the yellow footprints, my honorable intentions had been perverted and I would actually tell people, “If my government decides that someone deserves to die, I want to be the guy pulling the trigger.”

I believe most people who enlist (and most who become cops) do so for the right reasons. If that’s true, there better be a damn good reason that an organization driven by such honorable intent can be twisted to perform the greatest evils that humanity has ever known. Obviously, I’m not talking about just the US military, but rather every military.

The desire to risk everything to protect those you love is a beautiful, intense instinct baked into our very humanity and it’s scary as hell. It’s so scary that throughout human history, greedy, insecure, and evil old men have been able to take advantage of young mens’ hopes and dreams and fears. They take that noble desire to protect and serve and MILITARIZE it. They take something beautiful and pure and poison it with fear to meet their ends. To satisfy the empty holes in their souls that no amount of money, or oil, or piles of dead bodies will ever fill. Militarism takes that which is meant to serve freedom and uses it to serve tyranny.

There’s a reason the founders of this country opposed the idea of a standing army. They knew that the best defense for a free people is a well-armed population that refuses to be governed by anyone. And as Gandhi proved, the armed part is optional. The founders knew that militias defend free people. Militaries defend governments.

When the young men fighting wars stop killing each other and march home to take out our true enemies in the capitols there will be no more poor men dying for rich men’s wars. There would be no more soldiers, but there would be plenty of warriors.

In hindsight, I’m disturbed by much about my time in the military and my glimpse of combat, but I might be most disturbed by the perversion of the ideal of the warrior into that of the soldier. They told us over and over that we were the elite “warriors.” But a warrior is someone who stands up for what’s right. Who would put his or her life on the line to do the right thing and protect the innocent. A soldier is someone who follows orders. A soldier is a servant of authority, not righteousness. A soldier serves bankers and profiteers, not the people.

We joined because we are warriors. We were born to be warriors. We were fooled into becoming soldiers. The tragedy of my fellow Marines who I saw die in Iraq is not just that they died for lies and money and power. Their tragedy is that they died as soldiers thinking that they were warriors. If the troops defended freedom, they would attack the government.

Now is the time to honor the fallen by saying never again. Now is the time for the warrior class to finally stand up and declare that we will be soldiers no more and overthrow the political class. I can think of no better way to honor the dead this Memorial Day.


Join me, and veterans across the nation, as we deploy the Libertarian Veterans Caucus against the military industrial complex, and fight to restore the foreign policy of the founders.


Adam Kokesh joined the US Marines at age 17 and volunteered for  combat duty in Iraq in 2004. This critical experience showed him that war is a racket and led him to deeply question his most cherished statist beliefs. He first rose to fame as an anti-war activist before branching out into other areas, often taking action too risky for other activists. In 2010, he became an independent journalist as ADAM VS THE MAN. He has been arrested and gone to jail dozens of times standing up for his convictions. He began writing FREEDOM! while caged in Washington, DC. While he has inspired millions with his speeches, videos, and civil disobedience, his greatest contribution to the cause of freedom is the development of localization as a way to overcome statism and achieving a free world. He is running for President of the United States with the Libertarian Party (LP.org) on the platform of the peaceful, orderly, and responsible dissolution of the entire federal government. To learn more and to get involved, please go to KokeshForPresident.com.


Please feel free to repost this blog in whole or in part in any way you like wherever you like, but please, especially where veterans and active military will see it this Memorial Day.

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