Take a moment and remember why ‘Freedom isn’t free’

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David Junghans

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Monday will be Veterans Day. It’s a day our government has set aside to honor those men and women, living and deceased, who have served our country as members of our military. To date the United States has been involved in 73 separate armed conflicts since 1775. Some lasting only days, others lasting years, but all producing veterans. I’m one of several million living individuals who can call themselves a veteran. Some veterans have served in both peacetime and war, others only during peacetime, but they are all veterans. Unlike some veterans, I got to come home and live out whatever time I have left in peace. 

There is a saying I personally love, “Freedom isn’t free.” The things we enjoy and the things we find unenjoyable about America, are basically all parts of the freedoms that make up America. Whether the politicians choose to acknowledge it or not, it’s our military that preserves our freedoms — not our politicians.

Of the 25-plus years I served in the military, I served twice in Vietnam, coming home to a less than warm greeting each time. I didn’t understand why at the time, but with age comes a necessary level of understanding. I also served 29 months in Iraq and five months in Kuwait. Each time I returned home I and my fellow service members were received as if we were heroes. While I truly enjoyed the receptions, again, I didn’t understand why. I do now, the Vietnam who make up the military were doing the job they were paid to do — protect our freedoms. While some of us were sent to Vietnam because we were drafted and really had no other option, we went anyway. Most of us accepted that responsibility and fulfilled our obligation. Since that time — and before — our service men and women accept the responsibility to go where they are expected to go.

The only reason for the United States to maintain a military force is not to help citizens during some type of natural disaster or march in a parade someplace — it’s to, when necessary, brutally enforce some politician’s foreign policy. In our country the military doesn’t make foreign policy, its responsibility is to enforce it.

Anyway, on Monday there will be any number of events to honor veterans, both living and deceased. I understand Monday is a workday and there will be any number of things that must be done on that day. If you can’t go to one of the events, try and take just a moment and remember why you have the freedom to live and work in a place like Hayesville. It’s because young men and women have determined they owe America something and America has already given them a lot.

Also, take time to remember the families that our service members leave behind — their support is so very vital to their wellbeing.