Memorial Day and the cost of freedom

Memorial Day and the cost of freedom

Dear American Legion Family and friends,

A commonly used phrase in The American Legion is “every day is Veterans Day.” We prove this through our programs and service to our communities. But for Gold Star families and the battle buddies of the fallen, every day is Memorial Day.

When American servicemembers are seriously wounded, often their last words are some variations of “tell my wife I love her,” “tell my kids I’m proud of them,” or “take care of my family.” The parents of fallen heroes live every mother’s and father’s nightmare, burying their child.

Marine Corps veteran Rosanna Powers understands the meaning of sacrifice. She lost her brother, Lance Cpl. Caleb Powers, as he served in Iraq on Aug. 17, 2004. The very next day, her fiancé, Marine Sgt. Richard Lord, also made the supreme sacrifice there.

“We can debate the war’s legacy and what it means for the future of American foreign policy. But remember who stands ready to protect our freedom to have those debates and remember those who died to keep that freedom safe,” Rosanna wrote in a Fox News commentary. “It’s up to us to honor them, in our own way, by trying to make the country they died for a better place.”

When politicians debate the cost of veterans benefits, we should remember the price already paid by fallen servicemembers and their families. This is the true cost of war.

There is also the cost paid by some who served outside the officially recognized war zones. More than 1,600 Americans have lost their lives fighting in covert operations and cold war battles that have occurred since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Danger is inherent with all military service. This spring, nine young soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division lost their lives when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Fort Campbell, Ky. They trained in defense of our freedom.

While Memorial Day is a time of remembrance, we can also celebrate the lives of the more than one million men and women who loved this country enough to die for it. For that, we should always be grateful.

Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola

National Commander