Freedom is not Free

Memorial Day generally heralds the end of the school year and the beginning of summer.  Many head to the beach, celebrate with family and friends, hit those spectacular sales, and just kick back and relax.  Well, my kids do not get out of school until mid June,  it does not feel much like summer here  in Virginia, and I am on a time out from Khols.  This leaves time for some reflection on the true nature of this last day in May.

After the American Civil War, you know the war that split our country into two and claimed the lives of nearly 620,000 souls, it became common practice to commemorate those  lost lives throughout the nation.  There are many claims to who actually was the first to celebrate Memorial Day.  My favorite is one involving Charleston South Carolina freed slaves.  May 1, 1865 the black residents of Charleston came together and cleaned up the burial ground of the Hampton Park Race Course where at least 257 Union prisoners of war died.  In the words of Yale Pofessor  and Historian David W Blight:

This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.


Commonly referred to as Decoration Day, Memorial Day did not get its official name until 1968.  In 1969 the Federal Govt stepped in and officially mandated that Memorial Day be celebrated on the last Monday of May creating a three day weekend.  Even after the law went into effect at the Federal Level in 1971, it took several years for the individual states to follow suit.

Often confused with Veterans day, a holiday where we celebrate men and women who have and are currently serving in military service, Memorial Day is a day to recognize the service men and women who died while serving in our  country’s armed forces because freedom is not free.

Kroean War Memorial

Kroean War Memorial

Freedom is not free.  You have heard it before and may have even seen it engraved on the Washington DC Korean War Memorial.  No words have ever rang truer. The price of freedom is not just the billions of dollars that it costs to go to war and to maintain our defense system.  The cost of freedom is blood.  The cost of freedom goes back before the Civil War, all the way  to the American Revolutionary War. Early Americans paid the  price of freedom with the blood of Revolutionary Fighters in the birth of our country.  Confederate and Union soldiers as well as slaves gave their blood during the Civil War. The price of freedom was paid  during the Civil Rights Movement, where men and women of color were beaten and even murdered because freedom is more than a proclamation.  We have paid the price of freedom with blood in war after war after war.  While some picket and protest against military intervention, even holding up signs with offensive anti military slogans,  men and women continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice; because we live in a country that allows us to say “You Are Wrong” publicly without fear.  Freedom is not free.

Freedom is not just paid with money and blood.  Freedom costs broken minds and bodies.  Freedom costs broken homes and families. Freedom is traumatic brain injuries, post concussive syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, irreconcilable differences and suicide.  Freedom is not Free.

This Memorial Day Monday, as you enjoy your time off, as you swim in your pools, bask in the sunshine, plant flags along your yards, and barbecue in your backyards remember freedom is not free. Never Forget those who paid the price.  Never forget those who continue to pay the price.

2 thoughts on “Freedom is not Free”

  1. Beautifully written! Just what I needed to read this morning to “center” myself on the true meaning of this day! I had to giggle …. recently this photo “Freedom Is Not Free” was shared on another FB group and everyone commented it was the WWII Memorial — Knowing now that it’s the Korean Memorial brings my grandfather to mind — He was one of those funny guys boasting the military hat from all wars served — Korean, Vietnam, and WWII — May Grandpa Harry rest in peace and enjoy the rewards of eternal life! Can you even imagine his homecoming with all of this war-buddies who did pay the ultimate price? Grandpa was fortunate to live to be in his upper 80’s! Thanks, Christina!!!! Loved this post!

    1. It’s my favorite monument! My Grandpa was a Korean War Vet and Montford Point Marine. He used to sport his hat as well, and I never understood the significance until I married a Marine. I miss him so much!

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