OP-ED: Freedom is Not Free

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“The only two that have been willing to freely sacrifice their life for us is Jesus Christ and a soldier” ~ anonymous

General William T. Sherman’s famous quote that “war is hell” is not debatable. As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day it is important that we be reminded that there has not been any American war or military conflict in which black men have not served.

Blackmen have valiantly fought and received honorary recognition from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, both World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

Even though Congress passed legislation in 1776 that allowed black men to enlist in the Armed Services it would take until 1948 for President Truman to sign Executive Order #9981 that would officially end segregation in the military, and declare “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the Armed Services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Per the latest US Census, 20.9% of all enlisted soldiers in the Army are black, 18.6% in the Navy, 10.6% in the Marine Corp and 16.6% in the Air Force respectively. The black population of 18 – 55 year olds with a minimum high school diploma is only 12.9%. When we think of our great nation and our freedoms it is all due to the cost paid by our military that have braved the cold and the heat and the hunger and that have been wounded in foreign lands for us all.

G. K. Chesterton stated that “the true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him.”

As you are reading this column be reminded that there are hundreds of thousands of our men and women serving in the military far away from their families and the comforts of their home defending us right now. The cost paid by these soldiers is beyond the potential loss of their life and health.

Per a January 2014 Stars and Stripes report, about 22 veterans a day take their own life, 62,619 veterans were homeless on a single night in the United States in 2012 – 2013, which represents 13 percent of all homeless adults, according to Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report.

We must do better to care and protect those, who have given all to protect us. You can help by contacting any of the following organizations dedicated to helping members of our armed services: The VFW; The American Legion; The Navy League; Air Force Association and the Association of the United States Army are just a few.

Karen Watson is the author of the book, “Being Black and Republican in the Age of Obama”. Email karen.watson@gopbuzz.com
Karen Watson is the author of the book, “Being Black and Republican in the Age of Obama”. Email [email protected]

The world is a dangerous place, be thankful for those who protect us so well. From the blood of Crispus Attucks, a black man who was the first to die for our nation at what has come to be called the Boston Massacre in 1770, to today’s brave black men and women in uniform who proudly serve our nation, we as a people have so much to be proud of, on this Veteran’s Day and every day, thank a veteran because freedom is not free.

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