My humanity mourns whenever I hear about the loss of any life because life is so precious, unique, and rare. Beyond the sorrow of those who are left behind, it pains me to consider that another beautifully rare consciousness— full of wonderful ideas, blissful dreams, and wonderful potential—has been lost, never to be revived.
The humanity in me mourns for every soldier that dies for our freedom. The patriotism in me wonders whether that soldier is comforted in his dying moments by thoughts of “sacrifice for country” or the “greater good.” I wonder if they feel as though what they are dying for is worth it. For the soldiers that return home, I wonder if they see a nation that was worth their sacrifice.
We solemnly honor our troops, both living and dead. Their sacrifices for our country are far greater than what the average citizen will ever have to pay. Perhaps that is all the more reason those of us who have never served in uniform should seize the opportunity to cheerfully pay the price of freedom which must be paid on a daily basis by every American: coexistence.
You see, we often glorify the idea that our nation is a melting-pot. Indeed, our nation’s motto is true: E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One. However, we never consider the process and pain required to unite so many different people, races, beliefs, orientations, dogmas, and creeds. The melting pot analogy is apt; however, we often forget that what is forged must first endure the pain of the fire.
The price we as citizens must pay for freedom is the pain we feel when another citizen advocates for something for which we advocate against. It is listening to someone with whom we vehemently disagree as they exercise their constitutional right to free speech. It is the cringe we feel when someone insults our beliefs or preaches against our lifestyle. It is conceding when we have lost and graciously accepting when we have won. The price every citizen must pay for the freedoms we enjoy is accepting that America does grant, and will continue to grant, those same freedoms to every man and woman, including those with whom we disagree.
At times, this burden may seem as though it is too much to bear. At times, it may seem as though America would be better if we were all the same. Yet, are not our differences what make us great? Would we not cease to be America if ever we forced us all to be the same?
Whenever we get frustrated with sharing our American freedom, consider the price our soldiers pay for that freedom. Soldiers not only sacrifice the comfort of homogeneity, they sacrifice time with their family, other dreams and careers, and far too often, they sacrifice their lives. On this Memorial Day, not only should we repay our soldiers with remembrance, reflection, and respect, we should repay them by honoring the freedoms for which they sacrificed so much by cheerfully paying our own price. This is our reasonable American service. Indeed, this is the least we can do.