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High price of freedom

The HBO series “The Pacific” aired recently and I sat down to watch all 10 episodes that told the story of the U.S. Marines fighting the Japanese in the Pacific arena in World War II. Watching the series was difficult because of the atrocities our Marines had to bear and the thousands who were lost in battle. The series gave me greater appreciation for my freedom as a citizen of the United States and caused me to wonder what direction our country would have taken if we had not fought to defend it.

War is not a desirable means to an end, but it is sometimes necessary to preserve the freedoms we enjoy as a democratic republic. Freedom always comes with a price, the ultimate being the lives of men and women who honorably serve in our armed forces. Throughout our nation’s history, men and women have been willing to die to preserve the freedom we enjoy today. May we never forget that freedom costs the lives of our own.

“The Pacific” featured war heroes such as Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery on Guadalcanal when he commanded two sections of machine guns against 3,000 Japanese soldiers for more than 48 hours before reinforcements arrived. He was also awarded the Navy Cross posthumously for heroic actions on Iwo Jima, where he died.

The Medal of Honor has been awarded to 3,448 brave military personnel who died in the line of duty. This number represents less than one percent of the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. According to Wikipedia, 1,315,351 fatalities have been recorded for all the wars and conflicts in which the United States has fought.

Over our 234 year history as a nation, this represents an elite group of honorable citizens to whom I owe my appreciation. Most recently, the United States has sacrificed 1,082 soldiers in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan according to Every life given in the pursuit of defending our liberties deserves tribute from those who live to enjoy it.

Speaking recently to graduates of West Point Military Academy, President Obama said, “Time and again, Americans have risen to meet and to shape moments of change. This is one of those moments – an era of economic transformation and individual empowerment; of ancient hatreds and new dangers; of emerging powers and new global challenges. And we’re going to need all of you to help meet these challenges. You’ve answered the call. You, and all who wear America’s uniform, remain the cornerstone of our national defense, the anchor of global security. And through a period when too many of our institutions have acted irresponsibly, the American military has set a standard of service and sacrifice that is as great as any in this nation’s history.”

This Memorial Day, take time to thank those who have served, current military personnel, and military family members. Honor the American Flag and pray for our nation’s political leaders and troops serving to defend our freedom. Pledge to uphold the freedoms granted in our Constitution. May the sacrifice of our military always be remembered with honor and appreciation from a grateful nation.

– Susan McConnell

Mobile, Ala.