Thursday, November 5, 2009
Freedom Is Not Free
Liberty and Freedom are not free for they come with a high cost. Most American citizens my age and younger have been blessed to live in a land of freedom, prosperity, and safety. Sure, we know people who have served in the Armed Services, gone to war, and even lost their lives, but these are the exceptions. Most of the people we know continue with their lives as if there have been no wars. It is easy to develop the attitude that we deserve the blessings of liberty, that we are owed the opportunities of living in America. We must remember that our freedoms, independence, liberty and opportunities were purchased at a high price. In a 1787 letter to William Stephens Smith, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants" (Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America, 911). In a 1790 letter to the people of South Carolina, George Washington wrote, "The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity" (Maxims of George Washington, Schroeder, ed.,16; original The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Fitzpatrick, ed., vol. 3, 67). In a 1765 dissertation, John Adams stated, "Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood" (The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, Thompson, ed. 28). Our fathers bought our liberty, but our freedoms are preserved and protected by the men and women of the Armed Services. Including Iraq and Afghanistan, our nation has been involved in twelve different wars with the following statistics for the first ten from Robert J. Art, "War," World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, 25). US Military Deaths are followed by the US cost of the war. Revolutionary War (1775-1783): 25,324*,$101,100,000; War of 1812 (1812-1815): 2,260, $90,00,000; Mexican War (1846-1848): 13,283, $71,400,000; Civil War (1861-1865): Union Forces: 360,222, $3,183,000,000; Confederate Forces: 260,000*, $2,000,000,000; Spanish-American War (1898): $2,446, 283,200,000; World War I (1914-1918): 116,516, $18,676,000,000; World War II (1939-1945): 405,399, $263,259,000,000; Korean War (1950-1953): 54,246, $67,386,000,000; Vietnam War (1957-1975): 58,000*, $150,000,000,000*; Persian Gulf War (1991): 305, $61,000,000,000; Afghanistan War (2001-Present): 750+, $?; Iraq War (2002-Present): 4,000+, $? These figures do not include any civilian deaths or the health of military members and the marriages and families that have been destroyed by war. Millions of people have given their lives that we may enjoy freedom. Millions more sacrificed other things. Liberty is not free. It comes at a high price. May we always remember those who paid the price and show our appreciation by doing everything we individually and collectively can do to preserve that liberty!