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Memorial Day - Freedom Is Not Free
June 25, 2007

It was an honor to spend Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C. and to attend the Gathering of Eagles to show support and gratitude to our troops.

I know why I am free.

As I walked around the impressive World War II Memorial with my husband Jim and my oldest son Matthew, an elderly man with a cane came up to us. He told us that he liked my son's patriotic hat with the US flags sticking out of it. He was wearing a World War II Veteran's hat. When I asked him where he had fought, he told me that he had been in the European conflict.

I reached out and shook his hand and thanked him for serving.  He broke out into a huge grin and thanked me for thanking him! As he walked away, I thought of my dad who had fought in the Pacific with the Army Air Corps. His best friend had died in the war.  My dad named my older brother after him.  I wish that my dad could have lived to have seen this memorial.  Memorials are sacred places. They honor the ones who have given their all to keep us free. 

I know why I am free . . . because of Dad, his best friend Gary, that delightful elderly man, and so many others who fought in World War II.

The words inscribed on the Korean War Memorial are words that we need to remember everyday:  Freedom is Not Free. 

I know why I am free. . . because of all those who fought in the Korean War.

Visiting the Vietnam Wall was very emotional. So many names are inscribed in that black granite.  My husband served with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam.  Like my father, he, too, lost his best friend in the war. We looked for Owen's name in the book at the Wall and had a hard time finding it. A kindly park ranger came to our assistance.

Apparently, there is a whole separate section for the “Mc” names. I also looked up the boy who had lived down the street from me in my hometown in Connecticut. I remember that my dog used to bark at Bobby as he rode by on his bicycle. I can see him now riding as fast he could to get by my sweet but noisy Cutie. After careful searching, we found their names on the Wall and touched them lovingly with our fingers. 

I know why I am free . . . because of my husband, his best friend Owen, Bobby, and so many others who fought in the Vietnam War.

There were new names to remember and honor on this Memorial Day.  Cliff, a young Marine who died in Iraq, was in a platoon led by a family friend of ours. And Patrick, the son of newly found friends, was a soldier who continued to provide cover for his fellow soldiers despite being mortally wounded.

I know why I am free . . . because of Cliff and Patrick and all of the others who are fighting the war on terror.

I am free because of the young wounded soldier who spoke so eloquently at the Gathering of Eagles in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It was an honor to say thank you to him in person.   

As I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looked out across the Mall, I thought of my son Michael.  He is a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marines. He will be deploying to Afghanistan in July.  Right after he received his commission at Quantico, he came first to the Lincoln Memorial and then visited all of the Memorials there at the Mall.  To him, it will always be a special and sacred place . . .  so full of history, the very essence of America . . . a place to remember and honor all of the Americans who have fought to keep our country free.

I know why I am free . . . because my son and others like him know that freedom is Not Free. 

By Beverly Krause
Proud Marine Mom
Copyright 2007

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