The Price of Freedom

Image from freegreatimages.com
Image from freegreatimages.com

July the Fourth celebrated America’s Independence Day. It wasn’t intended to be just another day off work. Or another opportunity to eat too much and stay out to late. Those fireworks aren’t meant to entertain us with their colorful display.

July the Fourth should be a time when we reflect on the freedoms we enjoy in the United States. On this day, we fill our hearts and mouths with praise for our right to speak independently from our government and worship God as our own personal convictions dictate. We have much for which to be thankful.

One thing Americans neglect on this day is counting the cost. I’m not talking about your grocery bill for all those brats and burgers. Or the exorbitant sum spent on personal and community fireworks. I’m talking about something of intrinsic value – life.

The price of freedom cannot be measured in dollars and cents (although I’m certain bureaucrats have tried). Instead, this precious commodity comes at the expense of lives and blood.

To Recap the Price for America

Freedom is never free. We enjoy the benefits of someone else’s sacrifice. Most of the time, men and women in uniform protect our freedoms at the cost of their own life and health.

For American freedom, the cost in lives can be calculated by totaling the casualties in all the conflicts in which we protected our own lands or aided our allies from hostile invasion (the list doesn’t include dozens of other battles, namely with the Native Americans):

  • Revolutionary War: 25,000
  • War of 1812: 15,000
  • Spanish American War: 2,446
  • Mexican American War: 13,283
  • Civil War: 750,000
  • The Great War (aka World War I): 117,465
  • World War II: 419,000
  • Korean War: 36, 516
  • Vietnam: 58,209
  • Iraq: 4,804 (and counting)
  • Afghanistan: 3,441(and on the rise)*

Our freedom cost 1,445,164 people the ultimate price. After lining up all the people who live in Vermont and South Dakota, you would still need to find 5,243 people to match this number. And those two states rank amount the five smallest population-wise in the US.

Scary, isn’t it?

If the total number of wounded were added to this total, the staggering amount would immobilize us. Or it should.

Why do these people, military and civilian alike, put themselves in harm’s way? They understand that liberty involves sacrifice. Freedom is never free. A steep price in blood and lives purchases our often unappreciated freedom.

Have you thanked God for your physical freedoms lately? What about thanking a man or woman in military uniform for their service? They might have to pay the ultimate price someday soon.

Today, stop and consider the grave payment made for your freedom to take a day off work and chill with friends or family. When those fireworks light up the sky, remember the “rockets’ red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” mentioned in The Star-Spangled Banner. Be grateful. Not everyone is enjoying freedom today.

*Numbers from http://www.militaryfactory.com/american_war_deaths.asp and verified with other resources.

**This post, in its entirety, was previously published at the blog of FMBC on July 1, 2014.

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2 thoughts on “The Price of Freedom

  1. Thanks for reminding me what this day is really about (and it’s not bucket lists/non-bucket lists). That’s a lot of people, doing a whole lot of amazing good with more bravery in the first digit of their little pinky than I’d have in my whole body even if I was a septuplet.

    1. I forget to be grateful for the sacrifice of all those people. We all need the reminder that the freedom we have to voice our opinion loudly over the internet cost some people dearly. It’s so easy to enjoy the benefits without remembering the battles.
      Thanks for posting. Happy Independence Day!

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