“It’s kind of an oxymoron, the word freedom, because it comes with a high price.” –Chris, Marine veteran
Freedom means many things to many people. We recently asked a few of the veterans staying at the Mission to talk about what freedom means to them.
Fighting for freedom
Chris dedicated six years to the Marines serving in Iraq and Bosnia Herzegovina. His time overseas shaped his view of freedom.
“I really didn’t understand freedom until I got over there. It comes with experience, I guess. You had to experience not knowing what freedom is—[for example,] the genocide in Bosnia Herzegovina. Going over there, fighting for freedom, you come back and you say, “Okay, well, this is worth it.”
Ironically, Chris also expressed, “I felt free the whole time I was there because I had my buddies backing me up, and I backed them up too. We knew what we were fighting for and we did it with all our heart."
Navy veteran Doug feels his childhood helped him learn about freedom.
“I was adopted from El Salvador which was in war for freedom from the government at the time. When they announced that El Salvador was free, that they had won the war, that’s when I really felt free.”
Doug wanted others to feel the same. “I had a second opportunity to really understand what freedom was. I went and served in the military to make sure that others could feel it. I’m proud that I’m in the land of the free and now, I feel like I have done my part in making this country free.”
Counting the cost
After his service overseas in the Marines, Branden faced a number of challenges returning to the U.S. But his view of freedom has gradually become clearer.
He described it like this: “Recently, several of us at UGM went down to the bridge, and we all jumped off into the river. The moment between jumping and reaching the water, that moment of clarity, I would chock that up to what freedom feels like.”
Nonetheless, Branden’s struggled with freedom. “When I got back, I was pretty cynical about freedom. You go over there out of patriotism, out of wanting to protect those closest to you. You come back and see things like people protesting military funerals…and well, I fought for your freedom to do that, but [at the same time] that’s not the freedom I fought for. And with the cost of lives, I was really debating for a long time, was that really worth it?
“It took me a long time to realize, it was.”
Freedom is never free—not really. Chris, Doug, Branden, and thousands of other men and women have counted its cost.
“Freedom isn’t free, it does have its price, and maybe there’s someone you know that is serving for that price,” Doug said.
Branden agreed, “The sacrifice that’s required for freedom is very high. A lot of people don’t realize how big the sacrifice is. Right now, somebody is fighting somewhere and it’s for that wonderful freedom that we love.”
With that in mind, please remember the military veterans and current service members who fight to protect our freedom throughout the year.
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