A young, mortally wounded militiaman lay still, clutching his muzzleloader as the Redcoats stepped over him – pressing on toward the heart of Charleston. His last thoughts were of his family back in the colony of Georgia. Though breathing was getting harder for him, the pain was easing now – the light was before him. He closed his eyes and faded away.
“No Man’s Land” seemed an endless stretch of mud and blood-soaked French countryside. The “Doughboy” – cut down by the Kaiser’s soldiers during a futile charge – knew he would never see home again. His only concern was how they would tell his mother. He could see her troubled face as his drew his last breath.
The dying Marine, his body racked in searing pain as he waited to be transported off of the beach, looked up to the top of Mount Suribachi to see the vivid colors of the American flag stretched out by the winds of war. It was a reminder of his home – and the last thing he saw on this earth.
The soldier felt each bump as medics hurriedly placed his stretcher onboard the Huey. The rhythm of the main rotor and the engine’s roar blocked out almost all other sound as he laid there, his head tilted to one side, looking out at the grassy clearing and the jungle beyond. His sight grew dim, while the medics feverishly worked against the Reaper. The soldier’s last images of Vietnam dropped below him just as he heard one of the voices yell, “I’ve lost him!”
The relentless desert sun bore down on the 19-year-old’s sand and blood-covered face. An IED had killed three of his 1st Cavalry Division buddies instantly – he knew he was about to join them. His final thoughts were of his North Georgia home, where his grieving family would soon gather to welcome him back – one last time.
These fallen heroes – and thousands like them – all share many things in common. Perhaps the most important thing is the fact that they died for us - even though they never knew us.
The truth is, you can go to church where you wish, you can complain to your governing leaders, you can live where you want, work as you will, vote as you choose…even cook those burgers and hot dogs the way you like this weekend. And it’s all because members of America’s militia and armed forces have died for your freedom for nearly two-and-a-half centuries.
So, while we gather with friends, burn a few burgers, take a nice ride on a Harley through the North Georgia mountains or just sit and enjoy a Braves game, remember; Freedom isn’t free – it has come at a steep price.
Take a moment to remember our fallen friends and family – even the ones we never knew – and have a happy and safe Memorial Day.