Memorial Day observance

memorial dayOn this Memorial Day, I would like to take a break from our normal blog posts to honor the men and women who have bravely served and died for our country. 

Kelly Strong wrote Freedom is Not Free as a high school senior in 1981. This poem is a tribute to his father, a career marine who served two tours in Vietnam.

Freedom is Not Free  by Kelly Strong

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.
 
I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.

This weekend I’ll be observing Memorial Day with my extended family in my dad’s hometown in Wisconsin, where they still play Taps at the local cemetery, and hold a beautiful ceremony.  We’ll also be honoring the memory of my recently departed grandmother who lived to the grand old age of 97.

I wish you a peaceful Memorial Day.

Anita Rios

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