Thinking About the Cost of Freedom (Updated)

A number of people contacted me about this post and wondered whether I still feel the same way about Memorial Day. The fact of the matter is that I feel even more strongly that the need to recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by fellow Americans to assure our freedom should take precedence on this day. As I read about the overwhelming odds faced by veterans in the newspaper, magazines, online, and in various veteran’s sources, I become even more aware of the lifelong commitment that anyone who has spent time in the military makes. Some things simply can’t be fixed—the commitment, the sacrifice, and the awful truth of the outcome of decisions made to help our country are permanent. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice paid the highest price of all to ensure that everyone else can enjoy the freedom this country has to offer.

For many people, Memorial Day, which is also known as Decoration Day, is simply another day to spend time with friends and family. Of course, every veteran would agree that the reason for the sacrifice is so that people could spend time with friends and family. Everyone loves a good picnic or barbecue and being free to gather as we wish is important. The freedom to do what you want, when you want to do it, is an important right. Memorial Day is all about remembering, at least for a moment, the cost of that freedom.

I’m writing this post on Friday. Like many people, I won’t be in my office today. In fact, I’m making it a true day off—I’m not even bringing my computers up. About now, I’ve spent some time thinking about the guys I served with in the Navy and said a prayer for their well being. I’ve also thought about all those people who came before me and have served since my time—people who gave of themselves. However, I have to wonder just how many people have thought of those who died (or even the veterans who managed to live through it all).

In preparing for the post today, I wanted to find something interesting—something I haven’t discussed in years past. It was a bit surprising that Google returned all sorts of unexpected results. The first entry was from Wikipedia, which is quite nice, but hardly noteworthy. However, the next several entries were about the things that could (and should) surround Memorial Day, but didn’t discuss the main event at all. There were entries about the weather, finding the food you need for your picnic, the potential for wet conditions ruining the Memorial Day celebration, and an ad for Travelocity. At least I didn’t go ten straight entries without finding something worthwhile. The next entry was a CNN presentation of the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. I then went another 14 entries before I found something that was actually related to Memorial Day. So, out of the top 20 hits on Google, 18 of them talked about the weather, picnics, travel, television shows, and all sorts of things that really don’t have anything to do with Memorial Day.

Fortunately, you don’t have to follow the crowd. You can choose to celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day, which is to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure you have the freedom to live as you wish to live. Take time this Memorial Day to provide a moment of silence at your picnic or other festivity. No one is asking you to be somber for the rest of the day, just to take a quick time out in remembrance. After all, all those fellows in Arlington (and other cemeteries worldwide) thought your freedom was worth far more than a moment of silence, they gave their lives to attain it.

 

Thinking About the Cost of Freedom

For many people, Memorial Day, which is also known as Decoration Day, is simply another day to spend time with friends and family. Of course, every veteran would agree that the reason for the sacrifice is so that people could spend time with friends and family. Everyone loves a good picnic or barbecue and being free to gather as we wish is important. The freedom to do what you want, when you want to do it, is an important right. Memorial Day is all about remembering, at least for a moment, the cost of that freedom.

I’m writing this post on Friday. Like many people, I won’t be in my office today. In fact, I’m making it a true day off—I’m not even bringing my computers up. About now, I’ve spent some time thinking about the guys I served with in the Navy and said a prayer for their well being. I’ve also thought about all those people who came before me and have served since my time—people who gave of themselves. However, I have to wonder just how many people have thought of those who died (or even the veterans who managed to live through it all).

In preparing for the post today, I wanted to find something interesting—something I haven’t discussed in years past. It was a bit surprising that Google returned all sorts of unexpected results. The first entry was from Wikipedia, which is quite nice, but hardly noteworthy. However, the next several entries were about the things that could (and should) surround Memorial Day, but didn’t discuss the main event at all. There were entries about the weather, finding the food you need for your picnic, the potential for wet conditions ruining the Memorial Day celebration, and an ad for Travelocity. At least I didn’t go ten straight entries without finding something worthwhile. The next entry was a CNN presentation of the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. I then went another 14 entries before I found something that was actually related to Memorial Day. So, out of the top 20 hits on Google, 18 of them talked about the weather, picnics, travel, television shows, and all sorts of things that really don’t have anything to do with Memorial Day.

Fortunately, you don’t have to follow the crowd. You can choose to celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day, which is to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure you have the freedom to live as you wish to live. Take time this Memorial Day to provide a moment of silence at your picnic or other festivity. No one is asking you to be somber for the rest of the day, just to take a quick time out in remembrance. After all, all those fellows in Arlington (and other cemeteries worldwide) thought your freedom was worth far more than a moment of silence, they gave their lives to attain it.

 

Celebrating Veterans Day

Yesterday was Veterans Day. I’m sure there are many activities going on today as well, but yesterday was the official holiday. It’s an important day because it honors every person who has served honorably in the armed services of this country. As a veteran myself (I served 10 years in the Navy from 1975 to 1985), I usually do something special to remember my time in the service. A lot of faces come back—all of the kids who served with me either on shore stations or on ship. We were all kids—wet behind the ears and way too young to have left home. I know where a few of my former shipmates are today, but I’ve lost contact with a good many of them.

Some people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. The difference between the two is that Veterans Day celebrates the contributions of all veterans, while Memorial Day is specifically set aside to honor those who died while serving their country. If you want to thank a veteran for his or her service to our country, yesterday would have been the day to do it.

A number of people have asked why I joined the Navy. There were actually a number of reasons and I can’t say that any one reason was the deciding factor for me. I wanted to see the world and the Navy seemed like one way to do it. I did see a lot of the Orient during two deployments. My ports of call included: Japan, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, and The Philippines (amongst other places). I actually did get to enjoy enough time in each port to at least get a flavor of the place. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have seen so much.

Another reason was education. As a Sonar Technician I received a lot of electronics training in all sorts of technologies. However, by the time I left the service, I had acquired enough college credits for a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science—free of financial encumbrances. I more than met my educational goals.

I also needed some order and discipline in my life. Obviously, the Navy is well equipped to offer as much order and discipline as any one person could ever want (or need). I grew up while I was in the service and I managed to do it without getting over my head in trouble. If I had stayed a civilian, I might not have fared so well. I managed to make it to first class petty-officer (an E6) during my time in service, which is considered pretty good during time of peace. (While I was in during the time of the Lebanon/Granada conflicts, I wasn’t actually called upon to serve in those areas.)

Most importantly, during this time I became distinctly aware of what it means to be an American and I gained an understanding of why our freedoms are so incredibly important. I was never called on to die for my freedom, but I know many others have. Even so, I was willing to die should anyone have ever asked it of me. During this time of remembering our warriors, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with the politics of the wars we wage or not. That someone is willing to lay his or her life on the line for your freedom is what matters. If you didn’t get the chance to do it yesterday, make sure you thank a veteran today.