Columnist: My freedom isn’t free

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lynn Walker Gendusa

Contributing columnist

I received a return email last night from my friend, Jo. She had been a little under the weather so I was checking on her. She had just come back from a 25th reunion of Desert Storm Veterans in Ft. Stewart.

Her husband, Dan, served as a chaplain during Desert Storm. She went on to tell me, “The reunion was so touching. So many have come back with problems and injuries. So sad!! Freedom is not free for sure.”

So many lives have been maimed, scarred and lost on battlefields over centuries to maintain the freedom we so often take for granted. Soldiers put in harm’s way to keep us snug in our homes, keep our dreams alive and keep us belonging to this one great nation under God.

I have been doing a lot of research on my own heritage. I found that most of my family came to Virginia in the 1600s. They climbed on a boat to hope for a brave new world of opportunity. Many fought in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and every single war since then.

My brother became a cancer patient and died at the hands of his service in Vietnam. If you were able to call Heaven and ask him, “John, would you do it again?”

“Yep,” would be his one-word answer.

Bravery is born within the heart and grows into action. These brave soldiers now gone and still living are owed more than a pin on a lapel, a clap at the airport or taps at a funeral.

They are owed honor and respect forever. Even on the headstones at their graves, my family’s names are second after the word lieutenant, captain, private or colonel. To visit their graves and see the little American flags tucked into the ground makes me stand a little taller knowing I carry their same blood.

Honor is something that we need to let seep into every pore of folks that call America home. These soldiers fought for it. We should understand what that honor is.

We were all born into a country where the desire to be free came first. Yes, we did horrible things by wanting freedom for us and then having slaves, but that was then, not now.

We need to seriously love one another because we are Americans — pure and simple. We are children of the same God — pure and simple. To keep separating people into race and color is not honoring one another or God. The soldier on the front lines that died for you to live freely could have been any ethnicity.

I don’t know about you, but this election year is making me cringe. When I hear candidates belittling one another with schoolhouse taunts to get a vote, I think about the thousands of white crosses scattered over hillsides both here and abroad.

The soldiers that lie beneath these crosses fought for your freedom to speak, but not to speak in ways to tear down the very fragment of honor and respect. These candidates and their handlers are making a mockery of the dignity required to lead this great nation.

Our freedom of speech has allowed some to take off the filters and lose a little word called “integrity.” The commander in chief of these young men that fight for our liberty should, above all, have the soldiers’ respect.

Our warriors go to great lengths and fight horrific battles to keep our nation intact. Yet, our government is so fragmented by a two-party system that is broken. Leaders so aligned to a party or a special interest they forgot the battles it took to form a government that’s first name begins with the word “United.”

This nation is not reality TV. This nation is not all about Hollywood, or glamour, or a brand new sports arena to entertain us. This nation is comprised of brave and honorable people that call themselves black, white, Hispanic, oriental, liberal, conservative, independents, male, female or child. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, your first name should be “American.”

God loved us enough to put us together in one great country. Our brave soldiers loved us enough to endure loss of life and limbs, to endure lasting diseases and mental horrors.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” says the Lord.

That is the greatest love and it deserves the honor, respect and love back from a grateful nation that should always remember, like Jo, that Freedom never has been and never will be, free.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell.