Memorial Day 2014 – Freedom is Not Free

May 25, 2014 at 5:33 pm  •  Posted in Featured, Heritage by

A Soldiers Pledge and the Cost of Freedom

On this Memorial Day 2014, I thought it fitting to remember the words of President Ronald Reagan as he delivered his Inaugural Address in January, 1981.  His recounting of a Soldier, Martin Treptow, who was killed in France while serving with the Rainbow Division in World War I, proved Reagan was a student of history.

Even more, President Reagan proved himself a compassionate patriot as his voice broke when reading the Pledge written on the flyleaf of Treptow’s diary.  For Treptow, these were words that reflected his heart’s desire for his country and in the end he gave his last full measure of devotion for her protection.  Take a listen for yourself or read the words below from Reagan’s speech.

This memorial day, let us remember the price of freedom.  Freedom is not free.

President Ronald Reagan

If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. […]

Those who say that we’re in a time when there are not heroes, they just don’t know where to look. […] the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We’re told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.
God bless you, and thank you.

– President Ronald Reagan in his Inauguration Address
January 20, 1981


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