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As Long as We Remember...

June 1, 2012

Memorial Day: The Cost of Freedom

Steve Gottlieb

“Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty” is a quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson. On this past Memorial Day, it was appropriate the nation stopped to remember our fallen sons and daughters and hopefully realized vigilance is not the only price we pay.


Since our country was forged in the flames of the Revolutionary War over 1.3 million of our service members have lost their lives ensuring our liberty around the world; that does not take into account the few million more wounded and missing.


Actually, looking at the number of conflicts in which our country is and was involved and the cost in casualties, another famous Jefferson quote is also appropriate to remember: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Unfortunately it seems each generation must pay the cost of our remaining the one true beacon of freedom and equality in the world.


This past Memorial Day, as we remain embroiled in our 11th year of war, we should have also stopped to acknowledge – not just our military – but the unsung heroes who support and suffer alongside our service members.


Who are they?


They are wives, husbands, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers and others who love and support those who must stand in harm’s way to keep us free.


There are countless lonely days and nights, the need to handle family problems and emergencies alone, and they are the ones who suffer and are left to pick up the pieces and carry on with life when a service member pays the ultimate sacrifice and does not return home.


They are the same people who must deal with the day-to-day hardships of supporting someone who comes home with debilitating, life changing injuries both physical and mental. They are the foundation that holds together a military family and provides the support necessary so our troops can travel the world defending our country.


Current and future generations have the responsibility to move this country forward and continue to defend and nurture the ideals for which previous generations bled and died. The ideals espoused in our founding documents need to be our “true north.” Following those ideas made the United States a world leader, a place where people want to live and work.


As we move into the future, it appears that – as a nation – we are getting away from those values. We appear to be on the road to becoming something other than what our founding fathers envisioned.


Our Constitution is under attack from the very institutions it created. The Executive Branch is grabbing power from the Legislative Branch; the Legislative Branch is complicit and does not even complete its basic duty to pass a budget. To make matters worse, there are justices on the Supreme Court who feel as if the Constitution is outdated and should be interpreted with a more world view as opposed to an American view based on the tenets of the Constitution, the supreme law in the United States.


Approximately half the population of the United States does not pay federal income taxes, yet receive some type of government aid or handout. Politicians use government aid to buy votes and make people believe government is the answer to all our problems. This is done to increase the reach and power of government in direct violation to what the Constitution says and the framers envisioned.


Why bring this up in an article about Memorial Day?


The price paid to win our freedom, defend our freedom and promote our freedom was too high to let it be in vain. Above all, we need to reflect on where we’ve been as a country and where we are going. Do we allow the sacrifices of our most treasured resources to be for naught, or do we recapture our moral compass and once again head for “true north?”


We are on the precipice of history. As we move forward, and as we make decisions for our future, keep in mind those of the past who already paid the price and those who will pay the price in the future.


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