America's freedom: Appreciating the sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Al Strait
  • Wing Staff Agencies director
As an American people, we recently celebrated our independence as a nation. We celebrated the day in a variety of ways: watching fireworks, attending baseball games, hosting neighborhood block parties, eating a few hot dogs or just taking it easy with family members. Whatever the activity, somewhere in the hustle and bustle of the day we likely heard "The Star-Spangled Banner" sung or played.

The wing recently held a host of squadron change of commands. At each change of command, someone sang the "The Star-Spangled Banner." While the style of singing was different, one thing remained the same - the words of that great song. Authored by a 35-year- old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key penned the words after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy in the war of 1812. In 1931 a congressional resolution signed by President Herbert Hoover made "The Star-Spangled Banner" our national anthem.

As I listened to the words and witnessed the passion in which the song was sung, I could not help but to ponder the work and sacrifice of those who were part of the birth of our nation, for example, the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. History tells us these men came from various walks of life as lawyers, merchants, plantation owners; educated men who lived a comfortable life. They had security, but were willing to make ultimate sacrifices and did sacrifice all they had for the call of liberty. Most lost everything they had, including family members, for the quest for freedom. They truly followed their pledge of, "For the support of this declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

During the past 237 years men and women have continued to pledge their fortunes, their honor and their very lives to maintain this freedom. In a previous commentary, I mentioned the sacrifice of the men at the Alamo. Facing the burdens of leading the nation during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln understood the sacrifice of freedom.

From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, thousands upon thousands have sacrificed their lives to maintain our freedom. They continued to sacrifice in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, in Vietnam, in Lebanon, during Desert Storm and today in Afghanistan. Why do they do it? Maybe Abraham Lincoln had it right when he said, "This Love of liberty which God has planted in us constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence. It is not our form in battlements or bristling sea coasts or in our Navy. Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and we have planted the seed of despotism at our own doors."

The question now is this. What sacrifices are we willing to make today? Those who have loved ones deployed know the sacrifice. Those who support, such as our helping agencies (chapel, airman and family readiness center, community support coordinator), see and know the sacrifice. I would hope all of us would slow down and take time to ponder what our Founding Fathers have given us. Then make up your mind to always remember our freedoms not just on a special holiday, but every day.