Liberty Just in Case

A Dialogue for the September 12th World

Freedom isn’t Free: Kelly Strong, Commander, USCG

Posted by Mark on May 29, 2006

There are few sites more moving, and more appropriate to this Memorial Day than The International War Veterans’ Poetry Archive. Browsing this growing work of art would be a tribute to those brave men and women who have given their lives for us all.

One of my favorites is by Commander Kelly Strong:

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze;
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform,
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought… how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?

How many pilots’ planes shot down
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves
No, Freedom is not Free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still;
I listened to the bugler play,
And felt a sudden chill;

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend;

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands.
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No. Freedom is not Free!

©Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong

Cmdr Strong may be contacted by email at:
kellystrong@aol.com

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2 Responses to “Freedom isn’t Free: Kelly Strong, Commander, USCG”

  1. Gayle said

    Mark,

    That is a wonderful poem. Thanks for sharing it. I find it especially poignant, given the recent news that President Bush signed into law a measure designed to prevent protests at national cemeteries. It seems ironic that these cemeteries are full of those who fought for our freedoms-of which speech is one-yet those same freedoms are now being curtailed.

    Don’t get me wrong. I believe that people should have respect for the dead and their families. However, we should not be passing laws curtailing the very freedoms for which our military fought.

  2. Fred said

    While I agree that no law should have been passed on this subject, I also state that no one should give reason to think about passing this law!
    If you want to protest government actions, protest the government, not the soldiers. That is like protesting at an employee’s home, when the company he works for is who you are after.

    “Freedom Is Not Free”, and it should not be taken for granted by those who have not payed a part of the price for it.

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