Veterans Day reminds us that freedom isn't free

November 07, 2004|by Todd Cordell

With Veterans Day approaching, I am once again reminded of what America's federal holiday truly means.

As I am writing this column, there are many women and men serving our country in harm's way all around the world.

Many of them are currently engaged in combat missions in Iraq and in Afghanistan to bring forth peace, liberty and democracy.

Others are stationed overseas and here in the United States to protect our country and fight an ongoing global war on terrorism. This Veterans Day, my hopes, dreams and prayers are the following:


That all American citizens will continue to pay honor and respect to all of our nation's veterans - those who have served our nation in the past and those who are serving our country today.

Whether you are for or are against our troops fighting a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, whether you support President Bush or Sen. John Kerry, whether or not you are a Republican, Democrat or an Independent voter, all Americans should be united together and proud of our country's veterans and armed forces personnel.

We should also continue to lend all of our help and all of our unwavering, steadfast support to them as well.

Liberty and freedom are something that we as Americans take for granted each and every day. They include the freedom to make our own individual choices and decisions in our lives and for our children's lives, the freedoms of religion, speech, the press, to bear arms, to travel freely, to protest and to choose our own leaders.

This Veterans Day, I ask you to remember that your liberty, your personal freedoms and your rights that we Americans have were all bought and paid for by veterans who fought to defend democracy and our country, our citizens and all of the many personal liberties, freedoms and rights that you and I still have today.

We, as Americans, should be indebted to our veterans who served our country in both peacetime and in war. Many nations around the world today still are free nations due to the service of our country's veterans.

These freedoms and liberties have all come about with a tremendous cost and impact on our nation's veterans. Many veterans in past wars and current conflicts paid with their lives to protect their country and to preserve democracy.

Veterans past and present have sacrificed their health and their bodies - veterans who are now paralyzed, who have lost eyes and limbs, who were exposed to chemicals and radiation, who are now disabled and suffer from permanent disabilities and disease, who suffer from the horrors of war with stress disorders and who have shrapnel that will remain inside their bodies for the rest of their lives.

No, freedom is not free. It came with much sacrifice and cost to our nation's veterans. This Veterans Day, I ask all Americans to continue to pray for our nation's troops and veterans - for their safety and health and for their families. And please continue to pray for the families who have lost a loved one who died while serving our country - a husband or a wife, father, mother, brother, sister, son or daughter, or other relative.

On this Veterans Day, please take the time to personally thank all of our nation's troops and veterans who have proudly served their country in the past and those who still serve their country proudly today.

Here's a poem that might help you remember.

"No, Freedom Isn't Free. I watched the flag pass by one day. It fluttered in the breeze.

"A young Marine saluted it, I looked at him in uniform. So young, so tall, so proud, with hair cut square and eyes alert, 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 mother's 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 certain 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."

- Author unknown.

Todd R. Cordell is a disabled Marine Corps veteran, and Past Commander of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 14 of Hagerstown.

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