Freedom Is Not Free

Nov. 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada and others in the Commonwealth. It’s the day  we honor our veterans and those we lost.

IMG_3112It seems fitting then to tell you of my recent experience on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C., an almost two mile long public space incorporating a reflecting pool and major war monuments. To stand there and look down that mall—the Capital at one end, the Lincoln monument at the other—is an unbelievable experience. The magnificence of the design in that open space underlines the strength and beauty of America.

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World War II Memorial

The war monuments are of such grandeur that you can’t walk by them without thinking of the human tragedy of war. Lives lost and spirits crushed. Dreams dashed. Families broken. It’s stunning to read how many tens of thousands have died for their country.

Unfortunately, it’s a universal story. Every country has lost sons and daughters to war.

We first stopped at the relatively new World War II Memorial. What’s striking about it are the bronze reliefs on it, depicting scenes from that time.

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One of the bronze scenes at the WWII memorial

I had three uncles in that war. They were from a small town in Manitoba; they came from a poor family. War was adventure, a steady pay check, and a call of duty. One was in the air force, two in the army. They all came home, but were forever scarred by what they’d seen.

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Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial commemorates another one where Canadians,  Americans, and their allies fought side by side.

Another war that grabbed its young, and those who made it back were older before their time.

 

 

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They Come to Honor The Fallen

The last one we visited was the Vietnam War Memorial. A massive dark stone wall with the names of Americans who didn’t return.

Canadians didn’t fight in Vietnam, but we know the story. The horrors, the sacrifices, and the madness of war played out daily on our TV screens in the 60s and early 70s.

 

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Bronze Soldiers look on the Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam memorial touched my husband and I the most. Partly because it was the freshest war, the one in our lifetime with no easy answers. And partly, because there are still plenty of survivors and family members who visit and pay their respects.

There, I witnessed a father looking for his son’s name on the stone.

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A volunteer tries to ease the pain.

I saw a former soldier cry when a volunteer made a rubbing of his friend’s name, or maybe it was his brother’s, and a man shake with sorrow as he ran his fingers over the engraved letters.

I didn’t lose anyone in this war, but just seeing all the dead listed and the tears around me,  I couldn’t help but feel some of the pain of those who did.

At the end of the day, I was left with this thought, etched on a stone near the Korean Veterans Memorial.

Freedom Is Not Free

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

 

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About Diana Stevan

Stayed a writer through all my incarnations - teacher, social worker, model and actress. Writing is my bliss and is infused with pieces of my life that I can't help but put in my stories and blog. When I'm not writing, I'm busy hanging out with my husband, traveling, and trying to be a good mother and grandmother.
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6 Responses to Freedom Is Not Free

  1. So many people died along the way and they should never be forgotten. It must have been very sad to see so many names etched on that wall, and all the various memorials. Nowadays I hate to see those who have fought in the latest wars come back homeless, penniless and injured. In reality, not enough is being done to say ‘thank you’.

    Good to see you back Diana :)

    • Diana Stevan says:

      Thank you. It’s good to be back. I can only imagine what those who’ve fought have endured. And you are so right, they are not thanked nearly enough for what they’ve given their countries. And those that do come home carry the scars of what they’ve been through. How can they return to what was there when they left? It takes a lot of healing and support, and often that is missing. And those that don’t return, their families live with that loss forever.

  2. juliabarrett says:

    Beautiful post, Diana. I too love visiting the Capitol Mall. Glad to have you back!
    juliabarrett recently posted…I haz a conversation with my mother.My Profile

  3. I am a very proud American. Sometimes I think I am not doing enough to help my fellow man or woman. I have friends that have gone or are still in foreign countries, serving others. Some are in the military, some are on missions. That is America at its finest. Helping others. However it saddens me that some people take the freedom we enjoy today for granted. I find it intricate to decipher why some people will even think of protesting against the military on Memorial day.

    • Diana Stevan says:

      You live in a great country and you have a lot to be proud of. But I do feel the same way you do, that is, at times, not feeling I’m doing enough to help my fellow man. It’s hard. We all have families and I believe they are our first priority. It’s one of the reasons I blog. Besides talking about writing, I hope that by bringing up some tough subjects, I can make a difference. We all forget the sacrifices others have made so that we can live free. As for those who protest against the military on Memorial Day, I think they confuse those who go and fight with those who send them there. Too many people have died in unnecessary wars, or battles ill planned. If I had lost a son or daughter or father or mother or sister or brother, I might too protest. There are no easy answers. Unfortunately, we will always have wars. We need to remember the men and women who serve at all times, not just on Remembrance Day, Veterans Day or Memorial Day.

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