New Castle News

New Castle

May 26, 2014

Lisa Madras: Thankful that Voice of soldiers is what makes America beautiful

NEW CASTLE — In last week's blog, I asked the question, "What makes someone a hero?"

In hindsight, I realized I probably should have saved that question for this week. Of course, we all know I'm a notoriously poor pre-planner.

Instead, I'll ask another question befitting today's Memorial Day celebration. "How would you describe 'freedom,' in your own words?"

We're living in tough times, friends, that is sure. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't complain about the skyrocketing price of gas, the high unemployment rates, or the general downtrodden state of our nation as a whole. I'm as guilty of it as anyone else. It's easy to feel sorry for ourselves, especially when we're as worn down as we are struggling to make ends meet.

But at the end of the day, we have to acknowledge that we have it pretty good.  We have cars and trucks, some of them quite extravagant, in which to pump that high-priced gasoline. We have the option to take a menial job somewhere, and if that's not good enough for us, we can depend on the welfare system to get us through. We consider "suffering" a day when the wi-fi goes out, or the DVR didn't record our favorite TV show.

We can write a letter to editor of our local newspaper to complain about it, or complain about our politicians, or our president. We sip on take-out lattes and speak freely of our discord at the local doughnut shop, or in line at the grocery store. We raise our children into young men and young women who get to decide what religion they want to follow, what jobs they'd like to have as an adult, or if they'd like to enlist in the military, and possibly give their lives to protect the freedoms we so casually complain about.

We live in a nation that is facing some pretty tough times. We've been here before, and we'll be here again. Sometimes our choices are limited.  Sometimes we can't have the things we see other people with, or do the things other people do. But we're free to make choices, nonetheless. We live our lives fairly comfortably, and if we ever want to try a little harder, we're free to move out of that comfort zone. We're free to learn anything we want, become skilled at anything we choose, and bring about changes we want to see in our society.

We make great strides every day toward becoming a more perfect society. Twenty years ago, I wouldn't have felt comfortable telling my kids that I'm a different religion than most of their peers. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have been able to tell my children that they could marry a person of the same gender if they chose to do so. Perhaps in another 10 or 20, we'll be able to tell our daughters that life as an NFL quarterback is an achievable goal.

There are places in this world where women are still forced to hide their faces. There are places where only one religion is acceptable to practice. There are places where the course of your destiny is chosen before you draw your first living breath.

Nobody likes war. No parent raises their children hoping that someday they will sacrifice their lives to protect our freedoms. But we all enjoy those freedoms, even when we're complaining about our perceived lack of them. We have every single United States soldier to thank for that, living or dead. Our voice is a gift from them. How we choose to use that voice should be our gift to them.

Happy Memorial Day, friends.

Hold your family close. And don't forget to thank a soldier.


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