For Our Troops

For Our Troops

If you are an American citizen, have you ever thought about the freedom you have? I don’t believe I always think about it. Since I was born and raised a U.S. citizen, I have always known and perhaps taken for granted the freedoms that U.S. citizens enjoy: The freedom to say basically what you want; the freedom to travel wherever you want to go in this land; the freedom to practice whatever form of religion you want…you get the idea. Just look at the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution…our basic freedoms are outlined there, on paper.

Of course, freedom on paper doesn’t mean much without something or someone to back it up.

Our nation has preserved its freedom thanks in large part to the millions of veterans who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Military. These people have sacrificed much: time away from loved ones, jobs that are safer and pay better, and in some cases the ultimate sacrifice of laying down their lives.

It is not for us to ask why they do this – we should take the time to be thankful for them and what they do for us every single day.

I recently attended the funeral of a relative who was a World War II veteran. Part of the funeral services included a military style salute. Seven veterans probably from the eras of World War II and the Korean Conflict were lined up with M1 rifles near the location where the coffin was to be interred. A U.S. Flag is draped over the coffin. After the priest gave the final blessing, the veterans raised their M1 rifles and fired off a 21-gun salute. I’m not a veteran, but I have fired guns on occasion. The sound of those rifles was very loud and impressive – it really made a statement. Once the rifles fired, the song of Taps was played. During the playing of this mournful song, two veterans took the U.S. Flag from the coffin and slowly folded the flag. Then, the veterans took the folded flag and slowly walked towards the widow. They handed the widow the flag and ever so slowly and respectfully, they stood at attention and gave the widow a salute. Then one veteran knelt to speak with the widow about how her husband served his country well and she should be proud as this nation is of his service.

I can’t state the value of our veterans more eloquently than what they did in that funeral service. Period. I’m not even going to try. The only thing I hope you get from my meager words is how we should be grateful for these individuals, not just on Memorial Day or Veterans Day but every day.

Paul Heingarten is proud to be an American citizen. You can check out his blog at

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