Better Parents, Better Families
11/12/12 at 10:51 AM 5 Comments

Freedom's Obligation for the Next Generation

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Our country's freedom, like a relay race, is preserved and protected as each great generation passes the baton of duty on to the next.

In honor of Veteran's Day, United States veterans and current military families, I want to feature a patriotic essay, written by our eldest son, when he was in high school. This speech was presented for a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy competition, taking 1st place in Oregon and 12th place at Nationals, and also presented at various patriotic events including a statewide Memorial Day ceremony.

Now, nearly a decade later, these words touch my heart in a much deeper way. After graduating from university, our son worked hard, accepted a great challenge and became a United States Marine Corps officer. He honorably served our nation, specializing in ground intelligence and commanding snipers in Afghanistan. Recently, he completed his commission and is now in the USMC Reserves, while earning his MBA at Harvard. It's amazing to realize that my son is now a veteran.

I'm a proud mom, yet I am continually humbled by the lives and examples of others. I'm so grateful to God for bringing my son home and for giving our family His grace during his dangerous deployments. Yet my heart goes out to other military heroes -- along with their moms, and their wives, and their children -- who have made (and who are currently making) much greater sacrifices than I ever did.

My son's speech concludes, "Freedom is definitely not free. There is a duty, a responsibility, an obligation that comes with it. That obligation is to preserve and protect freedom for future generations."

By Patrick Dunagan

My body grew tense as I watched my teammate round the final corner and begin the last hundred meters of his sprint. His hand clenched the baton as he darted toward his finish. As I prepared to run my leg of the race, I knew what I had to do. My team was in a strong position... but the competition ahead would be tough. I couldn't let my teammates down. As I reached for the baton, I knew I must run my absolute best, it was my duty, my obligation as part of the relay team.

Our country's freedom, like a relay race, is preserved and protected as each great generation passes the baton of duty on to the next.

Not long ago, I was in France, with my dad, visiting famous battle sites; but one place was especially sobering. Above me, an American flag waved in the Normandy breeze. Crosses stretched in every direction, each representing a brave soldier who had died for his country. Each stood in perfect line, its white marble shining bright in the morning sun. As I walked through this American cemetery just above the famous battlefield of Omaha Beach, I was so thankful for each brave warrior who now lay under several feet of earth - each who had given their all to protect America.

They had run their race...

As a young man on D-Day, my grandpa had fought on that beach. The peaceful shore I saw was then a scene of violent struggle -- the largest seaborne invasion in history. Fortunately, Grandpa survived that battle and lived . . . to have nine children and many grandchildren. We always loved to sit down by the fireplace and listen to him tell stories of what it was like: how he fought as a machine-gunner, how he shared his army rations with hungry children, and how time after time the Lord had spared his life.

But my grandpa's stories are not the only ones in our nation's history that reflect incredible acts of courage and patriotism. At Valley Forge, men were starving and barely clothed against the freezing wind. It appeared they were fighting for a lost cause, but our Founding Fathers prayed and persevered. In the Civil War, brother fought against brother, but finally our country united for "a new birth of freedom." In World War I, new weapons, such as the machine gun and poison gas, claimed the lives of thousands, but our great-grandparents faced their fears and stood firm. And in treacherous beaches, war-torn cities, and sweltering deserts, the World War II Generation - which my grandpa was a part of - preserved the world from a deadly evil.

From Vietnam to Korea, from Desert Storm to current threats in the Middle East, freedom's race continues... led by soldiers, police officers, firemen, government leaders, and teachers.
Today's baton of obligation is passed. Even when challenged by unimaginable terrorism, Americans once again proved the superiority of democracy and freedom.
Abraham Lincoln summed up the spirit of these brave men and women when he said,
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."
Recently, gunshots rang out over another cemetery as I looked at the casket. It was made of cedar, with an American flag proudly draped over it. On it lay homegrown flowers and a rugged wooden cross. My grandpa had just died, and fellow veterans were giving him a 21-gun salute. Grandpa was loved so dearly by the whole family, it was hard to believe he was gone. No longer could he sit and tell me stories, work in his shop, or on his farm, or be there for me... like he had always been before.
After the salute, three of the veterans slowly walked over to the casket and solemnly folded the flag. When they were finished, their commander presented the flag to my grandma and thanked her for Grandpa's service to America.
We must pray and persevere. We must stand firm and face our fears. And we, as Americans, must unite, regardless of age, regardless of color, and regardless of political stance.
As I've thought about the veteran handing the flag to our family, it's become symbolic. To me it represents that the responsibility for this nation has been handed down to our generation. Will we continue the tradition started during the Revolutionary War? Will we protect our nation with the fortitude seen in our past?
Yes! I believe our generation, like others before us, will fulfill our obligation.
Freedom is definitely not free. There is a duty, a responsibility, an obligation that comes with it. That obligation is to preserve and protect freedom for future generations. The Flag, like the baton, is in our hands now, it's up to us to run freedom's race.

© Copyright 2003 - Patrick Dunagan

In honor of VETERAN'S DAY: 

Please take time to appreciate every veteran you know who has served our nation to uphold freedom and democracy around the world. We also need to honor our current military troops and every family member who is standing behind their loved one. There is tremendous sacrifice in serving in the military, and as Christians, we need to provide help and support and love. Being in the military is very hard on families, on marriages, and on children. Those who are serving now and those who have served in the past need our support and encouragement and especially our prayers.

May God bless our military and our veterans . . . and may God bless the United States of America . . . for future generations.

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