• Ryan Scott

The Cost of Being American

We have all heard the sayings, “Freedom is NOT free,” or, “Freedom has a price,” but how many of us have stopped to think of the actual cost? As the holiday season is right around the corner, now is the perfect time to recognize the price that has been paid that enables us to be Americans and free.

Photo: Wreaths Across America Ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

The Statistics

VA statistics from 1775-1991 have shown that 1,190,085 service members have paid the ultimate price. The study titled “America’s Wars” shows how easy is is to get lost in the numbers, but if you really think about it, that’s just over a million American men, women, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters that never returned home. Why did they pay that price? The answer is simple. They knew that there was a cost, a price that MUST be paid-- the price of our freedom.

The Price of Freedom

It is a very humbling thought to think that this Christmas as I sit around the Christmas tree visiting with family and friends, that there is someone halfway across the world defending the freedom that I am enjoying. This person, someone that I may have never met, and may not ever meet, is selflessly putting their life on the line, giving up their own freedoms to ensure that I can enjoy mine.

Freedom has been ingrained in our Country from the beginning. It has been written on every piece of American culture and history, and that freedom was and is written with the blood of those that choose to defend it. In society today, it is easy to forget those sacrifices made in order to preserve freedom. We tend to turn a blind eye to those that have served and come back different than what they were. We may thank them for their service, but that is about as far as we go.

Whenever we see the elderly person at the grocery store, the one that wears the “Vietnam Veteran” hat, we may shake their hand and thank them for their service, but do we ever stop and think of all that they went through? We don’t like that part because it makes us think of all the friends they may have watched die, or the pain and struggle that they went through, or even the disabilities that they received while serving and will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

These thoughts make us feel uncomfortable, and instead of recognizing the great service that they have done for us and for our country, we write them off and continue to live our lives enjoying the freedoms they have paid for.

The Holiday Challenge

As the Holidays draw near, I submit a challenge to anyone reading this. Go the extra mile. Instead of just an awkward handshake and a quick thank you, actually take the time to get to know a veteran. Go to the VA nursing home. Go visit with the service members at the VA, or even go down to wherever the local veterans meet and just spend time with them. Talk to them. Learn who they are and the struggles they went through. Learn about the sacrifices they made that enables us to live in the best country in the world with the freedoms we have.

Most importantly, next time you are enjoying your freedoms, stop and think about the 1,190,085 Americans that gave that ultimate sacrifice so that we can continue to live free.

Ryan Scott is a contributor for Freedomists.

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