Memorial Day: Freedom

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Dwayne A. Jones
  • 99th Air Base Wing Chapel

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. - “History has taught us over and over again that freedom is not free.  When push comes to shove, the ultimate protectors of freedom and liberty are the brave men and women in our armed forces. Throughout our history, they’ve answered the call in bravery and (ultimate) sacrifice,” said Tim Pawlently.

What does Memorial Day means to you?  What will you be doing on Memorial Day?  Will you be barbequing, watching baseball or standing at the graveside of a loved one? Whatever you do, I hope you reflect on why we live in the land of the free and home of the brave.

Memorial Day is the quintessence of freedom. The Civil, World I and II, Korean Wars and other major conflicts marched to the battles rhythm of freedom.  Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifices our men and women paid so that we can enjoy freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom is liberating but freedom is not free. The freedom we enjoy emerges out of blood, sweat and tears. We are able to live in a free society because military members died so we may live in a democratic and republic society.

I believe that there is a common denominator that flows in the veins of all military members which is Declaration of the Independence.  Let us look at “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

When we escort the American flag into battle either on our shoulders or on a pole, we are embracing everything we as a country represents.  We represent a rich heritage that is contagious and others countries seek to obtain.  We are not a perfect country but we are a persistent and resilient country.   A country that believes freedom is important and we will defend it at all cost.

One of our duties as a member of the armed forces is to protect our national security and the safety of the American people, in doing so, we are protecting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.   When military members take that pensive oath of office “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, they are saying I am willing to die for my country. 

Every morning when we wake up, we should pay tribute to the men and women who continue to give the ultimate sacrifice so we can be stakeholders in the Bill of Rights that provide all citizens the opportunity to be treated with respect and dignity. 

For example, the First Amendment echoes the true essence of constitutional freedom.  It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.”

Memorial Day reflects robust faith and hope.  I can sleep at night knowing that God has staged courageous men and women of valor around the world ensuring we have the rights to express our opinions and religious preferences.

Further, my hope treads in the nucleus of an innovative and new generation that will continue to carry the mantle of duty and country.  It is imperative that we educate our children about the sacrifices made so that they can enjoy and understand our freedoms, such as:  Disney World, football games, education, liberties and opportunities that many countries do not have. These indulgences are not free.

It is said that we really do not enjoy freedom until we have been in slavery.  Some people take freedom for granted. In my opinion, when we take freedom for granted, we take our fallen warriors for granted.  Liberation lurks in the ranks of every major conflict or war.

John F. Kennedy eloquently stated, “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it.  And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.”  Memorial Day is about audacious men and women who embraced John F. Kennedy’s profound and thoughtful declaration.  We have brave warriors positioned today to pay the ultimate sacrifice for you and me.

Freedom is just one aspect of Memorial Day.  Nevertheless, I ask the question again, what will you be doing on Memorial Day?  I hope you will reflect on freedom and the pursuit of happiness that was so selflessly given to us by our fallen warriors.