Editorial: The price of freedom
The phrase has been uttered so often, it’s become a well-worn cliché—Freedom Isn’t Free. But even though it’s been said countless times before, those words continue to ring true. And it’s the men and women of America’s armed forces who are there to pay the price.
From the battles of Lexington and Concord to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 1.3 million Americans have been called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. Millions more have been left scarred and crippled in the service of their country.
Unlike the monarchies of 18th century Europe, with their professional armies and hired mercenaries, America was different. From the start, our military was based on the concept of the citizen soldier. It speaks to the heart of who we are as a nation.
Although the days of the farmer casting aside his plow and picking up a rifle are long gone, and a strong standing army has become a modern necessity, American soldiers still carry with them the spirit of Cincinnatus. They are reluctant warriors; but when called upon to do their duty, there are none better.
The Duke of Wellington famously called his men "the scum of the earth," and there was some truth to that statement, with the ranks of his army drawn from the lowest classes of British society, some barely escaping the hangman’s noose before being enticed to take the King’s shilling.
Conversely, American soldiers have been drawn from every strata of society—privileged college students fighting side by side with kids who had to go to work before graduating from high school; young men who grew up on the streets of New York and Chicago sharing the same barracks with the sons of Wisconsin dairy farmers. The U.S. Army has even been ahead of the curve in transforming society, such as when President Eisenhower integrated its ranks more than a decade before the civil rights movement swept throughout the rest of the nation.
On this Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform continue to make on a daily basis. It’s a steep price that they pay. The least we can do is say "Thanks."