Friday, May 27, 2011

Freedom Is Not Free...

Freedom is not free. It's a phrase that is uttered often, yet always bears repeating. At the same time, I wonder if in its repetition, it loses meaning. As we approach Memorial Day weekend, it absolutely demands discussion.

8 U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday. On a foot patrol, they encountered two IEDs, left for them, targeted at them, and detonated. I don't know these 8. Their names have not yet been released. I imagine young guys, like so many I've encountered while doing events on military installations. Baby-faced, full of energy and immature joy and optimism. I imagine the 19 year old Marine I met, who had two cats and a pregnant wife. Who probably couldn't be called a man yet, torn between going home to bring his wife the food she was craving, and staying late to BS with his fellow Marines. I imagine the 24 year old Marine, the only one in the group who had deployed before. The one who had two children, and a air of maturity, of leadership. I imagine the soldiers I met who could nap anywhere. Who were eager to help, polite beyond words, and two seconds later BS-ing with their buddies in a way only boys can.  I imagine the moms, dads, wives, children who are going to have that car pull up to their house, whose lives will be shattered with one ring of the doorbell over the next day or two.

I have risked a loved one, and I have felt that fear. But I am lucky. My fiance is home. This weekend, you should thank any service member. But remember that this day is about the ones who didn't come home. I have met numerous Gold Star families for whom every day is Memorial Day. And while we should honor their Heroes every day, this weekend is about them. It is about thanking the families for their sacrifice, for their loved ones' service.

I don't begrudge you your BBQ. Your beach trip. Your beers. Your unofficial kickoff to summer. I can't speak for them, but I doubt the families do either. I doubt the fallen would. But they would want you to remember. To pause during your BBQ, beach trip, beers, whatever and remember. Remember that they can no longer enjoy those things. Remember that throughout history, volunteer or voluntold, men and women have answered the call to defend our country and our freedoms. Remember that this year, men and women are in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether you agree with these wars or not, they are there for you. They have volunteered, and because of that, you don't have to. They won't celebrate. There will be no day off. But most of all, remember.  8 soldiers died yesterday. Freedom is not free. Even today. Even this weekend.

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