Listen to all the words, and the refrain will stay with you.
“Freedom isn’t free. Freedom isn’t free.
You gotta pay a price.
You gotta sacrifice for your liberty.” (Paul Colwell)
Many years ago, back when the Vietnam War was raging, there were hawks and doves in both parties. The lines were blurry when it came to which party supported the war, and the public was conflicted as well. In those days, before it became unfashionable, there were many examples of patriotism and support for America. We said the Pledge before the start of the school day; taking prayer out of public school hadn’t yet removed it from the public consciousness, and God and country were still fairly synonymous in the peoples’ minds. Not like it appears to be today, where you almost look like the odd man out placing your hand over your heart saying the Pledge of Allegiance, or if you have tears in your eyes singing a patriotic hymn. The Left has managed to undo in nearly 40-50 years what the first 200 years of this nation’s history had not done – remove faith and tradition from American life. But that is another story for another time.
“Freedom isn’t free.” As a little girl from that era I once heard the group ”Up With People” sing that song. I’ve never forgotten the words to the refrain. It echoes still in my mind today. Why? Because my love for this country and for those who have served her and sacrificed should not be forgotten. Our veterans are those who make that sacrifice. Some died in the effort to maintain freedom for others – indirectly maintaining freedom for us. I firmly believe if we weren’t over “there” fighting, the war would be on our soil in some form. The salvos will never stop (USS Cole, 9/11, Ft. Hood).
We say the word sacrifice, but I wonder if one ever stops and thinks about what that word means. Is it the veteran who loses a limb or all limbs, or is blind, the paraplegic, or the veteran scarred by sights he never could have imagined in his worst nightmare? Is it the family he left behind who sacrificed while he was gone? The missing spouse or parent, or son or daughter – in many ways the families are sacrificing too. We should visualize what it means to be a veteran and the sacrifices they make.
There is one other vision regarding our fighting men and women’s sacrifice, and that is the ultimate sacrifice. The one where you see the flag-draped coffin. Yes, that is the one we are the most familiar with – the one when small town America and traditional Americans still stop what they are doing and line the streets to glimpse, and perhaps say a prayer for the man or woman who gave their all. But I have to admit there is one sight that I never thought of. When a person dies, we think of a body in a box, a coffin; even before cremation, there is still a body to view. This week, the harsh reality, and certainly painful for the loved ones left behind, is the idea that there is almost no body, or only a part or two is left for burial. Then you don’t see this:
But you see this:
Coffins we understand, but seeing a small, cold, gray metal box holding “remains” barely big enough to be covered by a folded American flag, that is much harder to wrap our minds around. Nothing left but ashes and bone fragments to be returned to loved ones. That too, is a vision of ultimate sacrifice we should know and honor.
This Veteran’s Day, we salute our veterans, we mourn our dead, and we remember – freedom isn’t free.
Picture 1 – Arlington funeral (Adamtglass)
h/t Weasel Zippers (Picture 2)