| May 27, 2013

'Freedom ain't free... but it is worth whatever it costs'

Every year at this time we pause to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom. Since its beginning as Decoration Day following the Civil War and its evolution to Memorial Day and its official recognition as a federal holiday in 1971, this holiday has held a special place in the hearts of Americans. It is the unofficial start of summer, and it represents a delicate balance between happily exercising our freedom and solemnly mourning those heroes who defend it against our enemies.

We know our liberty has a price. Many of us make a special effort in airports, restaurants, and other public places to shake the hand of a service member and thank them for what they do. But each year, the last Monday in May reminds us just how much we owe our men and women in uniform.

Of course, this Memorial Day has additional significance for Oklahomans in the wake of the storms that have ravaged our state. While the official purpose of the holiday is to honor lives lost in military service, it will be difficult not to also think of the friends and neighbors we lost to deadly tornados.

The picture above represents an attempt to bring together those thoughts. It was taken by a dear friend and colleague as members of the OCPA staff assisted with relief efforts in Moore. Whether seeing it in person or seeing it through the eyes of the news media, the magnitude of the situation is daunting. There are multiple reports that describe certain areas as resembling a war zone. And it struck me that, while both situations involve death, danger, and destruction, both situations also produce heroism, compassion, and feats of service unlike anything we otherwise experience.

Those who aren’t from around here – who don’t understand our home, our values, or who we are – may find themselves asking why we would choose to live in a place like this. Our response is simple. When it is all said and done, we get to live in a place where the authorities have to beg citizens to wait before they come in to help, where needs are met with rapid speed, where “our deeply rooted faith sustains us.” In short, we choose this place because the good far outweighs the bad and because getting to raise our children in a place like this is worth it.

In a similar way, I once heard one of my personal heroes (and fellow Oklahoman), General Tommy Franks, say this about the price of liberty: “Freedom ain’t free… but it is worth whatever it costs.” Hearing someone like him who has put his own life on the line and witnessed the personal sacrifice of many soldiers throughout the years say something like that is inspiring. It reminds us that there are certain things in life that are just “worth it,” and we should be thankful for that realization. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my colleagues here at OCPA, we honor the memory of those who have died, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

So this Memorial Day, as you spend time celebrating your freedom, honoring the service members who have so bravely served this great nation, or helping your neighbors, make sure you take some time to reflect on just how blessed we are to be Americans and just how special it is to be an Oklahoman. God be with us all and bless our Great State in its time of need.

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