We are professional consumers in this country. We are experts at comparing prices to get the thing we want for the smallest possible price. On this Memorial Day, I asked myself what would I be willing to buy for $100? How about $1,000? I wonder what I would agree to pay $10,000 for? Or if I worked for 20 years and saved up $100,000, what would be worth spending that on? Is there anything so expensive I would give my life for it?
As I stood at the small ceremony and listened to the names of each soldier who paid the ultimate price, I was reminded how expensive our freedom is. Each of these names had hopes and dreams. Each had families. Each had their own lives to live.
And at the same time I am listening to the roll call of 176 names in a tiny town in Nebraska, there are people gathered and names being called just a few miles away in the next town. And in every other town in Nebraska. And in every other state in this country.
So many millions upon millions of extinguished hopes, dreams, lost sons and daughters. What could be worth such an incomparable price?
"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 -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
It's the soldier, not the preacher, who gives us freedom of religion.
It's the soldier, not the reporter, who gives us freedom of the press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who gives us freedom of speech.
It's the soldier, not the community organizer who gives us freedom to assemble.
It's the soldier, not the lawyer, who gives us the right to a fair trial.
It's the soldier, not the politician,who gives us the right to vote.