“Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” -Thomas Paine
It is November and with this month comes the outpouring of people telling that of which they are most thankful. Many common answers, and good ones at that, are family, friends, health, etc. But one that I don’t see much on my browsing of social networks is gratitude for the freedom and liberty that we as Americans are fortunate to enjoy. I also do not see much in the area of gratefulness for the hard work and sacrifice of our current and past American soldiers. It seems the pride in our country is eroding along with the realization of the gift that comes with being U.S. citizens.

Liberty by definition means the immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority, or in other words, the freedom to think or feel or do just as one pleases. We must understand the unique privilege that Americans possess. It is a gift from God. Of course we must teach the morally correct way to live one’s life, but above all it is up to each of us to live the way we choose. This is where the idea of unalienable rights from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” may have come from. Yes, the majority our Founding Fathers were in fact God-fearing men. Most of the world today and throughout history has not enjoyed the vast freedom that we as Americans have been allowed. The government placed in America was inspired and unique to provide a place free of a tyrannical rule. No other country on earth in the present time or in the past has ever gone to such great lengths to ensure the preservation of liberty as the United States of America.

Knowing this great blessing that comes with being an American over the past centuries has been the foundation of courage, pride, and selflessness for the many men and women who have served in the armed forces. From the Revolutionary war to the War on Terrorism our veterans and current soldiers have understood the unique freedoms that they fought to keep for their loved ones. A friend of ours said in response to a women asking why he was proud to reenlist and fight after 9/11 replied with, “I would rather fight terrorism overseas away from my family than to see it ever happen here again.” It is to protect the families of America and the freedom and privileges that they defend to ensure that future generations have the same equal opportunities that our soldiers continue to this day to selflessly give their time and sometimes their lives.

Though any words I write feel completely inadequate, I want to say that I am so very grateful for the sacrifice that all our soldiers and their families have made. Thank you for keeping us free and safe. Thank you for believing in our country. I know that many do not view themselves as heroes, but you are in so many ways. You not only defend our country, but bring justice to those who have brought threats against us. Having never served in the military myself, I can not understand fully the meaning that this Veterans’ Day holds for those who have. So I think it is most fitting to try to see it from their perspective. Here are famous and not so famous quotes and thoughts on the wars throughout American history. (Not all quotes are from soldiers. The older wars are the more difficult ones to find soldier quotes.)

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
Nathan Hale, before being hanged by the British, September 22, 1776

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, 1775

“To have shrunk, under such circumstances, from manly resistance, would have been a degradation blasting our best and proudest hopes; it would have struck us from the high ranks where the virtuous struggles of our fathers had placed us, and have betrayed the magnificent legacy which we hold in trust for future generations. It would have acknowledged that on the element which forms three-fourths of the globe we inhabit, where all independent nations have equal and common rights, the American people were not an independent people, but colonists and vassals.”
President James Madison, November 1812

“I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice anything but honor for its preservation.”
–Robert E. Lee, from a letter of January 23, 1861.

“I, too, am doing my little bit in this big task for you. For you are my America and embody all the ideals that our great country stands for. Maybe if America had let her task slide by undone it would not have affected me or you materially, but we would not have upheld the ideals that our country was founded on and sooner or later the effect would have been tremendous and America a mere puppet to some gross power built upon false ideas. So what am I that I should not go and fight against the evils before us. If I should fall, there certainly could not be anything nobler in my short lifetime to fall for.”
Sergeant Lloyd Maywood Staley, Excerpt from a letter to his sweetheart Mary on July 5, 1918.

“We must remind future generations what happened in 1936-1942, so that we will not make a wrong step again, so that our sons will have a chance to live.”  Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, R.A.F, 1943.
“Casualties many; Percentage of dead not known; Combat efficiency; we are winning.”
Colonel David M. Shoup – (Tarawa) – 21st November 1943
“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz – 16th March
“I am glad I had the opportunity to pay back to America for all the freedoms and privileges I have. I don’t take them for granted.” “I fought for your right to disagree with what I personally believe. And I continue to think it was and is the right thing to do. It is a tradition handed down from our founding fathers that must continue if America is to achieve their vision.” Joel Ward Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired

 

*Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1864.

Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts:

Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln.

In the words of returned serviceman Joe Cook, “Freedom is always worth the price.”

Advertisements