The real cost of freedom

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 09:19 AM.

Dear Editor,

With the recent shooting at the Naval Yard and Ft. Hood, we are reminded once again of the disconnect between our citizens and our warriors who put their lives on the line to defend freedom.

Much lip service is given to the slogan "Freedom is not free," but very little thought is given to the cost.  In the days and weeks following 9.11, we were indignant and outraged that our soil had been attacked for the first time since the Japanese attacked American soil in Hawaii, Alaska, and the coast of California.  Flags flew from virtually every home in our great land.

When I was a child, I can remember my mother talking about gas rationing; sugar and coffee rationing; investing in war bonds; and Victory gardens.  Even on the home front, sacrifice was required.  Nowadays, the ongoing war is a mere matter of inconvenience for most, certainly not for the families of those courageous young men and women in uniform.

For my generation, there was no welcome home.  We were portrayed by Hollywood and the press as "baby killers" and drug addicts, and the effects of PTSD were compounded by the public's disapproval.  Another generation that suffered similar stings were the fine young lads and ladies who served in the Korean Conflict.  Their's has been oft characterized as the "Forgotten War."  It was largely swept under the rug in hopes that it would go away.

Are we as a society going to continue to treat returning Veterans as pariahs of society?  Are we not going to insist that their wounds be treated, both the visible and those unseen?  If so, we can expect to be plagued by further instances of inexplicable madness.

About forty years ago, a Commander of Post #10069 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars wrote an article which was posted in The Star.  In it, Commander Marvin Shimfessel described the public apathy of that time.  Shimfessel is a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps and served during the Korean Conflict.  Here are the Commander's words from four decades ago:

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