The price of freedom

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From an observance marking the armistice that ended The Great War in 1918, Veterans Day expanded to honor all those who have served their country in all wars and in peace. The muster list of those who have earned this distinction stretches back to Lexington and Concord and continues to grow each day.

They come from all walks of life and circumstances. Their theaters of service stretch across the surface of the world, from pole to pole, from ocean’s floor to the limits of the sky-on foot and horseback, by truck and armored vehicle, on ship and submarine, in airplane and helicopter.

For some the fight is face-to-face and personal; for others it is at arm’s length, doing the thousands of things necessary to support those in combat. Some come home whole; others bear wounds to body or mind; still others do not come home at all.

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They all have one thing in common: A love of liberty and freedom. They serve so that others—family, friends, fellow countrymen, tomorrow’s children, even strangers in distant lands—can be free.

Of all the blessings Americans treasure, of all the things they fight to defend, the most precious is freedom. Individual liberty is one of the three “unalienable rights” cited in our Declaration of Independence, and it is the essential right upon which everything else depends.

Veterans Day is an annual reminder that liberty was won—and is defended—by the blood of patriots.

It is a precious prize, too precious to be squandered piecemeal, little by little, in exchange for more dependence on government.

Americans have been distracted by the minutiae of the health care reform bill passed by the House of Representatives this week, debating how the details would benefit or affect this interest or that interest, this group or that group, arguing over cost and economic impact, and ignoring the unprecedented assaults on the Constitution and the very individual freedoms so many have served to protect. The bill is more about mass government control than about health care, health care costs or the welfare of the individual.

Two alarming, huge leaps occur in this bill, which ought to alarm Americans more than the small details:

First, for the first time, the bill makes employers responsible for health care insurance by law. Americans should wonder when that national debate took place, and when and under what authority the decision was made that employers should be responsible for providing health care insurance in the first place.

Second, and more important, individuals would be required to buy health care insurance under penalty of law—a fine or jail time—an assault on individual freedom that begs the question, “If they can do this, what’s next?”

Somehow, I do not believe the direction in which our country seems so rapidly headed honors those whom we remember today.

We owe it to all those who bought, and are still buying, our individual liberty through their service and sacrifice not to sell it out for a bowl of political pottage.