This Memorial Day, Americans [enjoyed] a three-day weekend, amazing shopping deals, BBQ’s, and time spent with their families. But the time Americans use for rest, relaxation, and festivities came at a heavy price.
Americans should always remember that the freedoms we enjoy today are not free. Our freedom was fought for; it was bought with the blood of soldiers who gave their lives for their families, for their countrymen. These brave men and women gave their lives for our freedom. As President Reagan said, addressing the nation on Memorial Day in 1982:
“Our first obligation to them and ourselves is plain enough: The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we — in a less final, less heroic way — be willing to give of ourselves.”
Today it is right to be reminded of the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers, to remember the cost of our freedom.
Here are eight powerful and sobering reminders that freedom isn’t free:
1. Mary McHugh mourns her dead fiance James Regan at Arlington on 27 May 2007. Photo John Moore #MemorialDay
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZitoTrib) May 27, 2016
Sgt. James (Jimmy) J. Regan was assigned to company C, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment when he was killed by an IED which targeted his vehicle in northern Iraq in February 2007. “Deeply affected by the terror attacks of 9/11,” Sgt. Regan rejected lucrative job offers on Wall Street and law school scholarships to join the Army in February 2004. He left behind his loving fiancee, his parents, and three sisters.
2. The Civil War in Four Minutes: Battlefield Death
Over 7,000 men died at the Battle of Gettysburg, and would they receive a “good death?” Union troops, sadly, had no time for burials as they hotly pursued Confederate troops away from the battlefield. A town of 2,500 had the tragic responsibility of honoring the dead with a burial. The video’s narrator reminds us that “every Civil War battlefield is a cemetery.”
3. Widow Learns Of Soldier’s Death Through Facebook
“It’s something that you never think will happen to you,” remarks the widow of Staff Sgt. Christopher Brown. “You don’t want it to be real.” Army Staff Sgt. Brown was killed after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan, just a few hours after Skyping with his wife Ariell. Mrs. Brown was told of her husband’s passing by a member of Sgt. Brown’s platoon over Facebook. Sgt. Brown left behind two daughters and at the time his wife was pregnant with their third child.
4. War widow reads dead husband’s letter
The wife of a soldier who died in Iraq finally finds the strength to go through his belongings when she finds a letter written to her by her husband. Holding back tears she reads it aloud for others to hear. “I pray that in my life and death I saved others’ lives, and kept a few from ever having to experience this war,” he writes.
5. Fallen Soldier Returns Home [TAPS]
This touching, yet triumphant, video of fallen Army Specialist Joey Riley returning home to Grove City, Ohio, shows how our veterans are not just numbers, but are real people who belong to real communities. Grove City honored their fallen servicemember with an emotional and honorable homecoming.
6. ‘Come back, daddy:’ 4-year-old boy has heartbreaking plea at grave of Marine father
A young son’s visit to his father’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery offers a stark reminder of the sacrifice our service members make every day. Four-year-old Christian Jacobsen stays strong for his mother as he talks to his dad as if he’s right in front of him. “I know he’s always watching over me,” Christian says.
7. Dog Won’t Leave Fallen Navy Seals Soldier’s Side
This labrador retriever named Hawkeye showed why dogs are often described as “man’s best friend” when he stuck by his owner’s side even after death. Hawkeye led Navy SEAL Officer John Tumilson’s family into the funeral procession and remained loyally by his casket long after everyone else had left.
8. ‘Hero’ U.S. Soldier Gives Life to Save Afghan Girl
U.S. Sgt. Dennis Weichel will never see his kids again because he saved the life of a young girl he had never met before. Weichel had just surprised his two kids at home for Christmas before deploying to Afghanistan for another 11 months. While overseas, Weichel made the ultimate sacrifice, dragging an Afghan girl to safety before he himself was hit by an armored vehicle ending his life.
As President Reagan said:
“As we honor their memory today, let us pledge that their lives, their sacrifices, their valor shall be justified and remembered for as long as God gives life to this nation. And let us also pledge to do our utmost to carry out what must have been their wish: that no other generation of young men will ever have to share their experiences and repeat their sacrifice.
Earlier today, with the music that we have heard and that of our National Anthem — I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: Does that flag still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask.”
Remember always, “The patriot’s blood is the seed of freedom’s tree.” -Thomas Campbell
(For more from the author of “8 Sobering Reminders That ‘Freedom Is Not Free'” please click HERE)