Monday, May 31, 2010


Freedom is Not Free

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

That poem was written by US Coast Guard Commander Kelly Strong in tribute to his father, a Marine who served two tours of duty in Vietnam. 

I personally like to think of Memorial Day as America's second Thanksgiving day.  It is a day that we give thanks for those who have died to make or keep us free.  From the brave militia members of the Revolutionary War whose blood was shed to create a nation of free people to the warriors of today in Iraq and Afghanistan who risk their lives to keep us safe and defend our freedoms, our debt to these brave men and women can never be repaid.  All we can do is offer our gratitude, remember them and their sacrifice and teach our children about those who selflessly fought for our hard-won freedoms. 

These men and women are the best of us, because they are able to reach deep inside themselves and do what is needed for the common good, even if it means sacrificing themselves for people they have never met.  As Commander Strong so aptly put it, freedom is not free.  It is paid for in blood and sacred honor.

There is a special place in Heaven for these brave souls, and a special place in our hearts, where they will live on forever.  We are only the land of the free because we are also the home of the brave. 

God bless them all.

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