Freedom isn’t Free

Written by: John Kenyon, COO

Recently I came across a quote that reminded me of the importance of Memorial Day. The quote stated that the nation of Israel celebrates their Independence Day the day after their Memorial Day. It reminded me of the phrase “Freedom isn’t free” and reminded me of the cost, which at times must be paid to ensure those freedoms and liberties will ever be enjoyed by this nation.

George Washington’s published General Orders on July 2, 1776 readied his men for the war that already was upon the colonies but soon would intensify as those colonies would become the United States of America.

It said, “The time is now at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own…The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.”

The ensuing conflict would rage on till 1783. An estimated 25 thousand soldiers died during the conflict. As this nation approaches its 242nd birthday, the number who sacrificed their lives in the wars this nation has fought is now over 1.3 million personnel. Abraham Lincoln’s words at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863 speak well to their sacrifice, but it is his final words I wish to draw your attention:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task … that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Hear well those words, for it is critical we never grow complacent in neglecting our duty as citizens to ensure that freedom and liberty will continue for our posterity.

These freedoms and liberties are under assault by both subtle and overt attacks. O. Carter Snead wrote in 2009 an article entitled “Obama’s Freedom Deficit” that showed a subtle shift in policy from the idea of ‘freedom of religion’ to ‘freedom of worship’ that regulates faith to personal not public expression. Kelly Shackelford, CEO of First Liberty law firm, recently spoke of the unprecedented levels of attacks upon religious liberty across the spectrum that required a military division being created to handle the case load.

Shackelford would establish the importance of religious liberty, not only for people of faith but also for those who have no faith as well. “Because our founders called this our First Freedom, because they understood … one thing totalitarianism will never allow are citizens who hold an allegiance to one higher than the government.” For him, the erosion of religious liberty is the “flash point” that sounds the alarm of a system of government rapidly moving away from its foundational moorings.

This is why First Liberty states, “If the government can take away our right to religious liberty, every one of our freedoms as laid out by America’s founding fathers will be lost. Thus, we fight daily to protect religious freedom for all Americans, both today and for future generations.”

This memorial day the nation will remember those 1.3 million who have given that last full measure of devotion. It will do so in many ways and in many places. The problem will be the day after when the sacrifice will be forgotten until another year passes. Hear again the words of Lincoln, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task … that these dead shall not have died in vain.” The great task we bear as those who have benefited from the sacrifice of others is to not grow complacent or weary. We must be diligent in our prayers that the God of providence will have mercy upon us. We must be diligent in our duty as citizens exercising the rights guaranteed to us by our Constitution, secured by the blood of 1.3 million.

My last deployment to Afghanistan solidified the call to remember and the need to rededicate ourselves to this great task. Daily, I would walk to the Commander’s Brief for the review of the last 24 hours of operation and the upcoming missions. Outside of that briefing area were the pictures of 30 plus warriors who died that freedom and liberty would not become mere words but would ever be a reality. Let this Memorial Day be a launching point for our re-dedication “that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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