Freedom Isn't Free
***Note: This was a monumentally difficult post to write. It is simply impossible to describe what an immense sacrifice has to be made in order to serve in our military. Words cannot do it justice- it is simply something that can only be experienced. To those who need no explanation of the sacrifices made: Thank you. We try, but fail, to honor you every day. Never Forget.***
In our modern society it is easy to take a lot of what we have for granted- cell phones, cars, running water, and above all- our freedom. But what does being free really mean? There are plenty of valid answers: the ability to live your life of your choosing, to live where you want to live, to choose the job you want to work, to spend time doing the things you enjoy doing, to speak your mind about your beliefs. But there are small things as well: what type of food you’d like for dinner, what movie you’d like to go see on the weekend, where you’d like to go on vacation.
Ironically, to serve in the United States Military means sacrificing these freedoms. You are told where to live, what job you’ll be performing, who you’ll be working with… the “choices” that most of us are accustomed to making on a daily basis are replaced with orders that decide nearly every aspect of your life for you.
Sure, there are some minor decisions left to the individual. While on deployment there are small choices about what to do with precious free time. While home, you are afforded some level of autonomy- what bar to go to on the weekends, where you plan on eating dinner while off duty. But have you ever had to have a pass to go home to visit your family for a weekend? Or had your vacation plans approved by your boss, and your boss’s boss? Not when you’re going on vacation, but where you are going, with who, and how to get in contact with you? Have you ever been told where to move or what your new assignment will be? Serving in the military means giving up your control of these kinds of choices- it means being held accountable for everything you do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Since 1973 our military has been comprised of 100% volunteers, meaning our men and women have sacrificed their personal freedoms by their own free will in order to protect the rest of us. And not just in times of peace; over the last 2 decades, anyone who has signed up to served in the United States Military has done so knowing there was at least a chance, if not a high probability of being deployed to a war zone. These brave individuals deliberately sacrificed their personal liberties and intentionally put themselves in harm's way in order to ensure that the United States continued to be the Land of the Free.
Memorial Day is to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice during their service by giving their life in the line of duty. Veterans Day is to celebrate the all of the sacrifices made by every one of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines day in and day out- those who have served, and those who continue to serve.