Veterans Day: Cost of Freedom

  • Veterans Day is distinctly different from Memorial Day in May.
  • As I recover and relearn to walk again, matriculating from wheelchair to walker and walker to cane, I recall the saying “All gave some and some gave all’.
  • Many veterans like me are still giving.

Veterans Day is difficult for me every year. This year, Veterans Day will be particularly challenging.  Normally, I either keep myself busy with mundane tasks or submerge myself in some monumental project. To be sure, I am never idle.  Some years I participated in Veterans Day ceremonies.  Sometimes, I have the honor as a keynote speaker or as a performer singing our national anthem. Some years, I have avoided all contact.

This year, it was different. I am recovering from my eighth combat related spinal surgery.  In fact, as the physician went over my adult medical history, he inquisitively remarked about my 15 operations to repair wounds and worn outer ports.  I answered in my normally mischievous manner, “Gambling debts doc. They don’t like when you don’t pay.”

Veterans Day, which was originally known as Armistice Day, is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces.  Veterans Day is distinctly different from Memorial Day in May.

Since our founding, 657,961 Americans have died in battle, 6,930 in the War on Terror. Others died in theater for other reasons. However, since 1775, the number of Americans wounded in combat is 1,430,290. An additional 52,566 have been wounded in the War on Terror. (Source)

Veterans Day celebrates the service of all US military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who have died while in military service. There is another military holiday, Armed Forces Day, a U.S. remembrance that also occurs in May, which honors those currently serving in the US military.

I characterize Veterans Day differently.  I say that it’s a day of honoring those “Who have borne the burden of battle, felt the sting of combat and shall forever recall the sounds of shots Fired in anger.”

Recently, I got engaged in a conversation where the civilian person I was talking with stated how badly they felt that I had been wounded in combat but that’s the “Price of Freedom.” I believe they meant well so I took no offense. However, I think that there’s a difference between the price and cost of something. Price is the amount a customer is willing to pay for a product or service. Cost is typically the expense incurred for a product or service

The Price of Freedom so to speak would be the recruitment, training and procurement of equipment. In my humble opinion, there is a quantifiable cost of freedom which can be measured not only by the damage brought to our bodies but also by the heat, light and steel of combat.  There’s also other metrics such as the psychological effects on military personnel, and their famines suffering from separation, and of course fear of injury and death.

Out of 26 years of active duty military service, I was home for Christmas only six times.  The cost of being Army Special Ops, I guess.

As I recover and relearn to walk again, matriculating from wheelchair to walker and walker to cane, I recall the saying “All gave some and some gave all’.  Well, I’d like to add to that by saying “And some are still giving.” Many veterans like me are still giving.

Undoubtedly, this Veterans Day I will proudly put on my US Army Ranger hat and shirt and accept the very welcomed, “Thank You For Your Service!” I will remark in kind as I always do, “It was an Honor.” Indeed it was and is an honor.  You see the word “honor” implies “nobility of soul” and having a state of discipline, courage, and honesty.

When military service men and women pledge “duty, honor, country” we vow to protect and defend our country and never harm it through word or deed. For me, that pledge has no expiration date. Still very proud to serve!

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Dana Matthews

Dr Dana Matthews is a Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Ranger (Retired). He holds a BA in Journalism, an MBA/JD Law Degree, and a Doctorate in Organizational Psychology.He is a Member of the National Press Club in Washington DC and has appeared on TV and Radio.He was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart for Combat Wounded Veterans.Dr Dana Matthews is a well published Journalist and writer with articles appearing in the Scripps Newspaper/ TCPALM.COMHe also co authored and published a novel entitled " El Segundo- One Man's Journey for Redemption". 

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