Freedom isn’t free.
A catch phrase, perhaps, but true nonetheless.
While war and methods of warring have changed over the centuries, one thing never changes; people die.
In an earlier age, they died because their king commanded their service. They died because they owed fealty. They died because they were conscripted. They died defending what they believed. In more recent ages, conscription of a different but similar nature forced young men into uniform, onto the battlefield, but many more fought for an ideal; the right for men to be free. Still, the why never mattered; death doesn’t care about the why.
Good men died beside bad men. Friends died beside enemies. Wives, mothers, fathers, lovers, sweethearts, siblings,and children prayed, frightened for their loved one caught in the chaos regardless of the reason behind or righteousness of the fight. And these same wives, mothers, fathers, lovers, sweethearts, siblings, and children wept and grieved when death snatched their loved one away.
I guess that makes two things that never change.
Righteousness is laudable, but it doesn’t ease the pain of loss, hold a spouse or child in loving arms, dry tears, or play ball. It doesn’t teach boys to be men or girls to be women. Supporting an ideal is one thing; cuddling up with it on a cold night is another.
This Memorial Day, as we honor those who served, who protected our freedoms, many of whom paid the ultimate price, let us not forget those who were left behind. No serviceman or woman serves alone. Within his or her heart, along with hopes and dreams for the future, these warriors carry the faces of those left behind—the husband or wife struggling to raise a young family alone, the mother whose pride in her child is the only thing that keeps fear from suffocating her, the child who doesn’t understand why a parent can’t attend the landmark events in his or her young life, and the list goes on.
Service comes with many faces. Those who wore the uniform did not fight, sacrifice, or grieve alone. It is fitting on this day when we remember the brave men and women who have secured our freedoms we also remember their families.
No, freedom isn’t free. If you doubt that, just talk to anyone who has a folded flag and/or photograph with a metal beside it on the mantle. The price of freedom is high, indeed.