The ultimate sacrifice

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In some families, the military is an institution. I bet you could strike up a conversation with a young person on the Berryville Square who has had multiple family members serve in the military. Perhaps that person might consider serving themselves. That certainly isn't uncommon in this area, and I'd say it's something that deserves respect.

That said, I did not grow up in a military family. My mom emphasized how important it is to respect those who serve our country, but she never encouraged me to enlist in any branch of the military. That's probably because we don't have very many family members who served in the military. Mom told me this week that she can't think of anybody in our family who lost their life serving the country.

Still, she's always said she feels grateful for those who have fought and died in war. Just because we haven't experienced it personally doesn't mean we don't mourn the loss of human life. Human life is precious, and I was raised to believe it always is.

Some of the people I went to college with took that sentiment a bit too far. I attended a small liberal arts college, where students expressed their extreme political opinions loud enough for everyone to hear. One of these opinions was hypercritical of the war on terrorism. I sat through many conversations in college where an acquaintance would insist that the war was a mistake or a scam.

"We've lost so many lives," they'd say. "When is it going to stop?"

Monday, on Memorial Day, I saw several posts on social media criticizing the war. That's right. On Memorial Day, the day when we're supposed to honor those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, I saw people criticizing the war for taking these lives. There's a right and a wrong time for everything, and Memorial Day is not the right time to criticize a war so many people are still fighting.

That is a discussion Americans need to have. We need to try to improve the way we respond to terrorism, a form of warfare that attacks the way we think and, in turn, the way we live. It's important to address this as a community of people who want to see our military men and women return home safely. After all, it's something that will probably continue to affect America for months, years and decades to come.

Memorial Day isn't the day to have that discussion. No, it's a day to reflect on all the sacrifices that have already been made to maintain the American way of life. It's a day to acknowledge that our freedom comes at a price. Remember, our freedom comes at the ultimate price: the lives of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters

It doesn't matter if you think we're too involved or not involved enough in the war we're fighting right now. People have died. The only reason we can voice our opinions on the war is because of the men and women who have died while fighting it.

They've helped us keep our freedom. Let's honor them by using that freedom to have the types of conversations that change things for the better.

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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newspapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.