In America we are still working on that last one, but we do have more freedom and more opportunities than any people in the history of civilization.
Yet, millions of people in our prosperous nation do not know the price of freedom, who is responsible for it and what it took to achieve it. These thoughts came to mind when I recalled a question a friend asked his youth Sunday School class one time.
He asked the question, “Who pays the preacher?” In a group of 15 young people, he was literally amazed that no one knew the correct answer. You would think that young people who attended church would know that.
In like manner, we could also ask the youth of our nation as well as adults, “Who is responsible for our freedom?” In other words, who is most responsible for the United States of America being a free nation? What would your answer be? The correct answer may surprise you. It is not the politicians. It is not the lawyers. It is not the educators. It is not the bankers. It is not the corporate executives. It is not the ministers. It is not ... well, you fill in the blank. The correct answer for those who are most responsible for our freedom are those people in our country we call VETERANS and we should honor them above all the others that I have named.
We would not have the opportunity to be politicians, lawyers, educators, business executives, professional athletes (newspaper columnists) and to pursue our dreams in any field we choose, were it not for our nation’s VETERANS. If you did not already know this, I hope you will never forget it, because we owe a great debt of gratitude to the men and women who served in combat to win and preserve our freedom. We do honor them on special occasions and observances, but every single American, both young and old, needs to understand both intellectually and emotionally what these heroes, past and present, have done for the rest of us.
The other day a friend sent me something titled, “Our Nation is in Mourning ... A Soldier Died Today.” You know we all get and read things like this from time to time, but if don’t put it in the proper context, much of the meaning will be lost. Please meditate on these simple words:
“He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast, and he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past. Of a war that he once fought in and the deeds that he had done. In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one. And tho sometimes to his neighbors his tales became a joke. All his buddies listened quietly, for he knew whereof he spoke.
“But well hear his tales no longer, for ol’ Bob has passed away, and the world’s a little poorer for a soldier died today. He won’t be mourned by many, just his children and his wife. For they lived an ordinary, very quiet sort of life. He held a job and raised a family, going quietly on his way; and the world won’t note his passing, tho a soldier died today. When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state. While thousands note their passing, and proclaim that they were great. Papers tell of their life stories from the time that they were young, but the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed, and unsung.
“Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land, some jerk who breaks his promise and cons his fellow man? Or the ordinary fellow who in times of war and strife, goes off to serve his country and offers up his life? The politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives, are often disproportionate to the service that he gives. While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all, is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension, small. It’s so easy to forget them, for it is so many times that our Bob’s and Jim’s and Frank’s went to battle, but we know, is not the politicians with their compromise and ploys, who won for us our freedom that our country now enjoys.
“Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand, would you really want some cop-out, with his ever-waffling stand? Or would you want a soldier — his home, his country, his kin, just a common soldier, who would fight until the end? He was just a common soldier, and his ranks are growing thin, but his presence should remind us we might need his like again.
“For when countries are in conflict, we find the soldier’s part is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start. If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise, then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days. Perhaps just a simple headline in the paper that might say: “Our Country Is In Mourning, A Soldier Died Today.”
Let freedom ring!
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034.)