The real cost of freedom

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

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10069 of Port St. Joe this week urged that all citizens speak out in support of the President of the United States and the efforts of the United States government to stem the flow of Communism in South Vietnam.

Speaking on behalf of Post No. 10069, Commander Marvin A. Shimfessel said:  "The delegates attending the V.F.W. National Convention in August in Philadelphia, Pa., unanimously urged that our government continue to seek victory in Vietnam and that all of our citizens lend their full support to the men on the fighting front."

"Frankly, we are sick and tired of listening to a very vocal minority undermining the bargaining position of our President and in so doing endangering the lives of our men on the fighting front.  It is my belief that the time has come when the much talked about silent majority should speak out.  We must let the men on the battlefield know that they have the support of the people at home and we must let Hanoi know that the President has the support of the people in this country."

"It is my hope that the people of this area will speak out on this issue and that other patriotic, civic, and fraternal groups will join with us in this crusade.  I am fully conf(v)inced," Commander Shimfessel concluded, "that if we fail to speak out now, the vocal minority in this country will most certainly take over all that is meaningful in this land of ours.  No one seeks peace more urgently than the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but we will not seek peace at any price which is what the vocal minority is calling for today."

Here, nearly half a century later, we may readily see how clearly Marvin Shimfessel's words still ring true.  The names and faces of the enemy have changed.  The attitude of the government concerning an honorable peace has varied, and majority and minority voices within the public's demographics have shifted.  But, the basic premise still holds as true today as it did then.

We are more concerned about whether Auburn or Alabama has the better football team.  We are stressed about the high prices for gasoline.  We casually enjoy our flavored and iced coffees with brand names we had never heard of twenty, thirty, or forty years ago.  We go to the gym to burn calories and bask in relative luxury while our troops put their lives on the line against an invisible and fanatical enemy.  Our young heroes in uniform must restrain themselves in their engagements and are not allowed to bring to bear the full force of American power.  America, have we really become so soft and so selfish?

Soon, a group of wounded servicemen and women will visit our community.  Will we, as Commander Shimfessel once implored, let those from the battlefields know that they have our "full support?"  Will we take time from our busy days to show our respect, to line the streets in a show of encouragement?  Will we volunteer, contribute?  Readers of The Star, in this new century, how will future generations judge that we treated our returning Veterans, and how will our patriotism compare?  Let us hope that observers will say that we rose to the occasion and were in our finest hour.  Please continue to pray for our troops and especially for those in harm's way from Gulf County.

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