Veterans' Day 2008
Murray, KY – Author and commentator Mike Freeland, a World War 2 combat medic, reflects on the cost of freedom and the responsibility of citizenship.
On this Veterans' Day all across America, in cities, small towns, villages and country side, we honor as best we can, the members of our armed forces. Today we are one family with one purpose, one nation, one flag: to honor and celebrate our veterans. Standing first in line among America's honor guard today are the young men and women fighting this very hour on foreign soil for your freedom and mine.
I have seen the ugly face of war. Too often I've tasted my own fear, I have seen too many dead, too many wounded. And I know one hour in combat your life is changed forever. General Sherman, from another war said "war is hell" the wasted lives, the insanity. There is no glory in war, there's got to be a better way. Let us wage peace! But if war must come, America is worth fighting for and dying for. Freedom is not free.
So many have paid the full price for our freedom with their blood and because this is so we still live in the land of the free. We are free to vote, free to assemble, free to speak, free to write, free to choose the work we do, free to worship or not to worship as we choose.
I quote these words from Sergeant Bill Mauldin, a journalist from World War II, "Liberty," he said, "is a living thing, and like all living things it needs nourishment." If you feel something needs saying and don't say it for fear of disapproval, you have withered liberty a bit. If you stop another man or woman from saying what he or she feels, the living plant of liberty dies just a bit. Liberty is dissention, it is argument, debate, politics, and the rights to live and work where and as you wish. Liberty is the right of a person to be the captain of his soul and destiny.
But in this land of the free, too often we take our freedom and our democracy for granted. We must remember: our liberty, our freedom can slip away as quietly as the morning fog before the rising sun.
If our country is worth fighting and dying for - it is worth working for. There's work to be done. It's called citizenship. It's called service for community, service for country. It's called personal responsibility.