How To Repay Our Fallen Heroes

By: Doug Hagin

Everything in this world has a price; everything has a cost attached to it. Too often people say the best things in life are free. This is false. Certainly many wonderful things do not come with a monetary cost, but these things often have a price far beyond all the money in the world.

Think of it; to love and be loved requires we give of ourselves. It requires we risk pain and heartbreak. Now surely the benefits can outweigh the costs where love is concerned, but the cost can be a terrible thing if we lose our loved one. Yet we must accept the risk of heartbreak because life without love is well, the cruelest of existences.

Liberty is another wonderful thing that exacts a terrible price. Yet no matter how high the cost, the benefits liberty reaps are far, far greater. Tonight, as Memorial Day 2006 ends, I sincerely hope every American celebrates the limitless blessings of liberty. Moreover, on this day, I hope we all focused our minds and hearts on the price that has, and in fact, is still being paid for Liberty’s blessings.

Today as I watched tributes to America’s valiant warriors, I was repeatedly moved to tears. As I watched videos of children weeping over a father or older sibling that will never come home again, and gazed at photos of grief stricken wives and mothers being handed folded American flags that had covered the caskets of their loved ones, I thought that the debt we owe those fallen heroes can never fairly be paid. How can we repay someone who laid down their very life to defend our freedoms? Surely, nothing we can ever do will balance those scales.

How could we ever begin to repay all those hundreds of thousands who risked, and lost, their precious lives for our liberty? Gazing upon all of those headstones, lined up in those straight lines, each flanked by an American flag, is an awesome experience. Every one of those stones is a person who willingly died so that America would continue.

Each of those stones is an American who struggled against the evils of Fascism, or Communism, or totalitarianism, each of those stones is an American who weighed the cost of freedom, and then bravely paid it.

Surely, no amount of tears, no prayers of thanks, no tributes, no matter how sincere and heartfelt, could ever fully honor those who gave that famous last full measure. As I write this column, however, I know there is a way we can repay the sacrifices of those who surrendered their lives to this glorious nation, and to our liberty.

How can we repay these great warriors? By not wasting the gift, they gave us. No gift is greater than sacrifice for another, and those war dead made that sacrifice and, if asked to repeat their lives, would do it once more. Yet it is up to us, in how we live, to make sure those sacrifices were not made in vain. They died to give us liberty, we must honor and repay them by never surrendering that dearly won gift.

Their fight is done; it now is ours to carry on. Most of us will never have to pick up a gun and fight for this nation, yet we are asked every day, to carry the struggle for liberty forward. Liberty is never won, it is a continuing battle, and there will always be those who would seek to deprive us of it. It is therefore our most solemn duty to support our military, in every way possible, and to enjoy the liberty they are, and have ensured for us.

Today, the most recent of the fallen heroes gave their lives fighting extremism as vile and evil as Nazism or Marxism. The terrorists are a direct threat to our liberty and nation. Our armed forces are currently engaged in defeating this sub-human evil. Our military cannot lose this war; no military on earth can defeat ours. Yet we, the American people, can lose our resolve, and that would not only cost us our current struggle, but would destroy everything those veterans fought for as well.
For us to cease our desire for liberty, and to cease or willingness to bear any burden to defend, our liberty would be the ultimate disgrace to all of those who spilled their blood, in liberty’s defense. The war dead would only too gladly rise up and fight for liberty and America once more. We must never betray their gallantry and selflessness by growing too weary to recognize and defeat evil.

Mortal men can give no greater gift than our soldiers have given, and continue to give. In the end, all any man can give is their life. The question as this Memorial Day closes is shall we, the American people, repay the sacrifices of these fallen heroes by never surrendering the liberty they ensured for us?

Alternatively, shall we forget the price of freedom? If we lose the indomitable spirit we celebrated today, we will have wasted the toils and sacrifices our dear departed heroes offered us. That is a price none of those heroes would want to pay. Such a course would also lead us to the realization that the cost of liberty is far less than that of living without liberty.

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