by Robert Arvay
A few years ago, I had just left the military, gone back to school and found a job at the university I attended. One of the people I worked with was a young lady who had gone to college straight out of high school. She must have been about around 20 years old or so. While working, we would occasionally banter about things, just small talk to pass the time. Then one day she mentioned that she was on a veteran’s scholarship. Foolishly, I asked if she had been in the military. No. Not exactly. But her father had been killed in the Viet Nam war when she was still an infant. She had no memory of him.
I offered condolences, which she accepted without emotion. She had never known any other life than to be fatherless. While seeing her friends and classmates fathers and mothers attend school functions, she had only her mother. Many children who had only mothers had divorced fathers who would keep as close as they could. But this young lady had no one to call her “princess.”
It was in that moment that I more fully realized the actual price of freedom, and the terrible cost of war. Yes, of course, the men who die in war are true heroes, they make the ultimate sacrifice, and forfeit all their tomorrows so that we can enjoy our todays in freedom. The price they pay is incalculable.
But sometimes we forget the widows, the orphans, the grieving parents, the loved ones from whom the fallen warrior is taken; they suffer, too, and their sacrifice is also incalculable. These victims of war wear no uniform, and when they die, no regimental unit number marks their graves. Even if the widow remarries, however worthy the new husband, there must, surely, always be a corner of grief in her heart.
The price of freedom is beyond measure, and the cost of war is paid both in blood and in tears. Something that expensive must never, ever be treated lightly. You are free and you are obliged to remain free, to stand firm in your freedom and to defend it at the very first sign that someone intends to take it from you, or from anyone whose freedom was bought so precious.
Near the end of the movie, “Saving Private Ryan,” Tom Hanks, playing the dying Captain Miller commands Private Ryan, whose life he has saved, “James… earn this. Earn it.” The movie concludes with the aging veteran Ryan, asking his wife “Have I led a good life? Am I a good man?”
Enjoy the fruits of freedom, while never forgetting that the tree of liberty is nourished with the blood of patriots.
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson