by Alyssa J. Herzinger
The year is 1945, and it is a beautiful spring day in a small town in southern Idaho. My family and I have just met a troop
train that was coming through town. We welcomed the soldiers with smiles and warm drinks to show them our thanks. I wore my
best dress, and used paint on my legs to make it look as though I was wearing nylons. We don't have real nylons because the
material was needed in the war. We have a motto: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"; Sometimes
we just have to be a little creative.
We'll do anything we can to help the soldiers Our brave troops are risking their lives in the defense of our freedom.
Supporting them is the least we can do. As my family and I return to our home, my mother quickly tunes the radio, and we all
anxiously wait to hear the news of the battle in Germany. My brother, Donald, is serving there. He has already been wounded,
but he is back in action. We are all worried about him, but we are so very proud of him.
A few days later, we hear wonderful news. The war is over! Everyone starts talking about the grand parade we'll have in
the soldiers' honor. It's going to be such a sight! Amidst all the happiness and excitement however, the beautiful spring
suddenly turns bleak for my family. My brother will not be coming home to be in the parade. Donald was killed in Germany,
on VE day. We found out the day after we received his Purple Heart award. He was a good brother, and a good American.
By telling this story, I have attempted to put myself in my grandmother's place. I wasn't alive during World War II, but
she was, and so was her brother Donald. Donald was my great-uncle, and he is one of the thousands of young men and women who
have given their lives by accepting the challenge of preserving our freedom.
Now, it is sixty-two years later, in 2007. These days, we don't hear much on the news about the service of our troops,
unless it is somehow beneficial to someone's political career. We don't have troop trains coming through our cities, so we
can't show our appreciation to the troops by meeting them there. The government no longer calls on us to make sacrifices for
the war-we don't have to give up nylons, plant victory gardens, or drive at the victory speed of 35 miles an hour. Because
of this, we are not daily reminded of our soldiers, and of their cause. And so, in 2007, what is our duty? What is our modern
day victory garden? Our duty is to respect and support those who have accepted freedom's challenge with the utmost degree
of devotion- our troops and veterans.
Our veterans and soldiers deserve to be some of the most highly respected people in our country, yet they are often forgotten,
and even insulted by high-ranking politicians. What happened to the patriotism that enveloped our country during World War
II, and after September 11th? What happened to the flags, the faith, and the support for our military?
Respecting our troops means making sure they have what they need, but our military often goes without things that are
essential. Sometimes they are even monetarily responsible for acquiring their own life-saving equipment. We need to work with
the government, and make sure that our troops are
provided with the equipment they need. They have already devoted themselves to the country, and the country should be
devoted to them. We also need to make sure that the veterans receive the benefits they need. They have served
this country, and it is time for our country to serve them.
We need to rally behind the troops one hundred percent. When a young man from my area was home on leave from Iraq, a local
school asked him to come talk to the students. After his presentation, some of the teachers told him that they supported him,
but not what he was doing. How can that possibly be considered support? Even if we did not like the idea of our troops going
to the middle East, they are there now, and they need our support more than ever. Despite differing political views, as a
country, we must be united in support for our troops. They need to know that we believe in their cause, and that they will
not come home to spite and anger for having done their duty. We cannot say we support the troops if we do not support their
And to respect them, we must support them. To respect our troops and veterans, respect what they have given us. Exercise
the freedom that has been won on the battlefield. Do not let their service be in vain. Do not let our freedom slip away from
us by simply not remembering it. Vote for officials whose main goal is to defend freedom. When a new law is proposed, ask
not what it gives us, but what it would take away. Respect our hard-earned freedom, and exercise it.
I believe that the challenge of freedom is to take an active, passionate role in preserving our freedom. We cannot lazily
expect other people to take care of it. Apathy is the greatest enemy of freedom. Our troops and veterans have accepted the
challenge of defending and sustaining freedom to the highest degree. We must respect them, support them and exercise the freedom
they protect. To do this, we must remember. Remember those who have fallen for the cause. Remember those who live for the
cause. Remember those who, even today, cannot taste the sweetness of freedom. Remember how blessed we are to live in the United
States of America, with God-given rights and
liberty. For if we truly remember, we will act, and if we act in the cause of freedom, we will always be free.
|Sandpoint Ray Miller