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Letter from Colleen and Emery Miller

The following is an essay I wrote for one of my classes explaining to the unpatriotic and unconcerned why I do whatever I can for our boys. 
The picture of some snacks and candy bought with unsolicited donations handed to me by co-workers as I collected signatures, and softball equipment I talked our company into sending to Iraq; the letter of thanks ended up having over 120 signatures with words of support for the troops.  I organized the collection when a soldier's mother called in tears because 6 other companies had turned her down for a donation to her son's unit, and it made me hopping mad!
My husband and I have been on several missions including Berry in Wichita and Davila in Greensburg/Dodge City. We are proud to stand with you whenever we can to honor our heroes. 
Coleen Flory-Miller & Emery Miller
Newton, KS

The Cost of Freedom

            Americans seem to have very short attention spans; remember all the flags which were flown everywhere for months after 9-11?  Where did they all go?  Unfortunately for most people patriotism is something they show and feel only on Memorial Day and The 4th of July, whereas I outwardly express my appreciation at every opportunity to those who have sacrificed to give me the freedom I enjoy.  Thomas Jefferson stated shortly after this country was founded “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” as a warning against complacency and indifference to those generations who would come after.  He knew if we as Americans should ever lose our appreciation of or the will to defend our freedom, it could cost us everything so many have fought and died for.  Supporting those who are willing to sacrifice, fight, and die for what is right is the moral responsibility and civic duty of every citizen.  I am appalled by the passiveness and apathy so many display toward upholding our ideals and how they simply ignore injustice that does not directly affect them.  Americans who take our freedom for granted and put forth no effort to sustain the memory of our heritage are an embarrassment to the nation, an insult to all our fallen heroes, and a threat to our ongoing freedom.

Some people think I am strange because I drive a truck that has been painted like a flag. I frequently wear clothing, jewelry, and accessories in red white and blue, and my license plates have flag frames and the tags read “Love It.”  Many also think it weird that I proudly fly the American flag in front of my house 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  These same people wonder why I would give up a day of leisure at home to stand in the wind and rain, fighting to keep a 3’x5’ flag attached an 8 foot pole upright, while a soldier returning from Iraq after more than a year of service drives past with his family and friends on the way home from the airport.  They cannot understand what would motivate me to ride for hours on a motorcycle in freezing weather to join with hundreds of others who have done the same, to stand by the family of a fallen hero so they will not have to see or hear foul disrespect spewed by lunatic religious fanatics at the funeral of their beloved husband and son.  My answer to these people is my heart has been both filled with pain and swelled with gratitude as schoolchildren and townsfolk lined the streets for miles in an unbroken chain of flags as the funeral procession of a fallen soldier passed through their town.  The sorrow and pride of thousands of mothers, wives, family and friends of heroes who have fought and given their lives for what they believe in has affected me deeply and irrevocably, and I can not and will not forget what they have sacrificed so that I may live in freedom.

Many times I have stopped men in military uniform in stores, restaurants, and on the street to shake their hands and tell them thank you for what they are doing for our country.  I have hugged many an old WWII Veteran in appreciation for his sacrifices and those of his fallen comrades while tears streamed down his face.  I have seen old men sitting on the roadside wearing WWII ribbons and medals, and have cried as I watched them fight to raise their frail frames from wheelchairs to their feet, so they could salute or place their hands over their hearts as our flag truck passed by in a 4th of July parade.  These men have made it possible for us to live in freedom and for the rest of the world to aspire towards the same for themselves.  They deserve our respect and our gratitude every day, not just one or two days out of the year.

            My beloved grandfather, one of the most gentle and god fearing men I’ve ever known, enlisted in the Army after WWII began and was stationed in Europe for almost 4 years.  My father served 23 years in the Air Force and was stationed at Phan Rang for 12 months during the Vietnam War.  They both left behind wives and children, not because they felt it was their job, but because the very ideal of freedom was being attacked.  It did not matter that the conflict was thousands of miles away; it violated everything that we as Americans are supposed to believe in.  Our Constitution guarantees us “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and these were being denied to people by a hostile force.  My father and grandfather believed all people deserve the same chance at freedom that we enjoy.  We are the only country on the face of the earth with the resources, strength, and courage to offer the hope of freedom to the world.  To not offer help to those in need and to keep what we have only for ourselves will only invite the hatred of the world, and will inevitably lead to more terrorist attacks if not an outright assault on our country.

            Now, as my only child makes ready to leave for Boot Camp to complete Advanced Infantry Training as the final step in preparing him for military duty in a country far away, do I say this conflict is not our problem?  My son will stand up and fight for what he believes in before he is actually even old enough to appreciate all that our freedom entails, because even at his tender age he already knows in his heart that it is the right thing to do as an American.  He believes these people should be entitled to the same things we are, and to not defend them and the things we as Americans say we believe in would be wrong.  The American belief in what is right does not end simply because you are no longer on American soil; the battle for the defense of freedom must be fought wherever the threat exists.

 "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it," said Thomas Paine.  Those who only reap the benefits of freedom without paying anything for it themselves or paying ongoing respect to the price which has been paid for it by others, do not deserve to call themselves Americans.  If we do not support, remember, and honor those who have stood up and sacrificed for what they believe in, then our freedom has lost its value; soon everything we have will mean nothing, and eventually there will be nothing left worth fighting for.