Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Opinion

May 26, 2014

Freedom is not free

It is Memorial Day weekend as I sit down to peck out my weekly rant and I thought it would be appropriate to muse on what this special holiday means to me. By choice, I became an American fighting man right out of high school and had a wonderful career that lasted over 27 years. I saw my share of hardships, lean years living on the poverty line, family separations, and duty assignments in or near harm’s way.

The lowest times I remember were during the Vietnam era when service members were scorned by much of the public we defended. Things got so bad, we were encouraged to wear civilian clothes when traveling through airports to avoid incidents. Even years later, while attending an Air Force Association convention in Washington, D.C., I can remember negotiating through picket lines of protesters between hotels, led by the Berrigan brothers, who threatened to throw blood on us. I thank God that those days are over and uniformed troops are now met with open arms as they travel.

Having said all that, I sit here as one proud career American veteran who is very thankful and humbled by the fact that strangers still say, “Thank you for your service” when they discover my circumstances. At this point, I must say a hearty “Thank you for your service” to The Good Wife who supported me in every way possible and kept the home fires burning during my absences for virtually all of my military and civil service careers. It should also be considered a shout out for all the unsung military spouses (male and female) who seldom get enough credit during our patriotic observances.

Many years ago, the Air Force Sergeants Association published a poem that pretty well sums up my feelings on the subject of “Freedom.” In fact, over the years, I have given several speeches using this poem as my theme.

The poem was published for a national AFSA convention on Aug. 26, 1981. It was written by Cadet Major Kelly Strong, Air Force Junior ROTC, Homestead Senior High School, Homestead, Florida. It is still as relevant as ever and especially so on every Memorial Day holiday.

               ———

Freedom is Not Free

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