Thursday, October 27, 2005

A great essay

This was written by the sister of one of our paratroopers, KIA in Iraq in 2004. She wrote it for Veteran's Day, November 11th. Formerly Armistice Day for you History buffs out there. It's a long but a great read.

She's a junior in high school and she gets it, like so many of our citizens do not. I thank god for the youth of this nation. They look and sometimes act like they don't get it, but they do.

Remember SGT Cory Mracek and his sacrifice.

FREEDOM IS RED, WHITE, AND BLUE
By
Heather Mracek

The dictionary defines the word freedom as the condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without restraints. My definition of freedom is a broken heart draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE. I define freedom this way because freedom is not free.

Freedom is not free. Freedom is dressed in red, white, and blue. Thomas Jefferson said it best when he said, “The trees of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the bloodshed of patriots and tyrants.” How many of us really understand or believe that statement. Do you know what it is like to sleep alone? To be cold? To miss your family? To be unappreciated by your country? Do you know what it is like to lose a loved one or a friend who fought and died for the freedoms that you enjoy every day?

And how many have received an American flag; followed by a 21-gun salute, followed by TAPS? I know that freedom is dressed in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

We have five guaranteed freedoms in the First Amendment. They are freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and association, and the freedom to petition. Each and every day, I awake in this wonderful land, the United States of America, and I am free. I can go out of the house and not worry about someone killing my family or me because we disagree with our government or a dictator. I can go to school and speak my mind without worrying about getting thrown in jail. Each and every day, we take our freedom for granted unless our freedom has been dressed in red, white, and blue. Then we understand exactly what it means to be truly free.

It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press. Freedom of the press is a right, but that does not mean that there are not responsibilities that go with it.
Reporters must report information accurately and fairly. Too often reporters only report a part of the story, only the part they want you to know. It may make the story entirely different that it is meant to be. The media has freedom of press, but we have the freedom to check the facts and form our own opinions.

It is the soldier, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech. Poems add a lot to our lives, but in some countries authors are not allowed to express their views. I thank God for our soldiers that we may read poetry as it is written and we may either agree or disagree with different views.

It is the soldier, not the organizer who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights that we enjoy. The United States, more than any other nation, has recognized the importance of this freedom, to safeguard democracy and allow us to grow as a nation. It is also a dangerous right because it means that we can disagree with your government and we may desire to change it. Some people think this freedom gives them the right to vandalize other people’s property and hurt the public. Our freedoms do not mean that we can do anything we want. We must still respect laws and other citizen’s rights

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protesters to burn the flag. Freedom is RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

According to USA Today that published a poll of high school students, 1 in 3 high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them. The survey of 112, 003 students found that 36% believe newspapers should get government approval of stories, 51% say they should be able to publish freely, 13% had no opinion. What this survey confirms is that kids aren’t learning enough about the First Amendment in history, civics, or English classes. It also says much for adults’ attitudes. “ It’s part of our constitution, so it should be part of formal education,” says Jack Dvorak, director of High School Journalism Institute of Indiana University. It also is scary that so many think that this freedom should be lost. True, media sources need to show responsibility in their reporting, but we cannot allow it to be shut down.

The United States Supreme Court in 1989 ruled that burning or defacing the flag is protected free speech. A large majority of students in the USA Today poll surveyed believed that musicians and others should be allowed to express unpopular opinions, but 74% said people shouldn’t be allowed to burn or deface an American flag as a political statement, 75% mistakenly believe it is illegal. I personally do not want to see anyone burn or deface our flag as it means so much to my family, but to take away the freedom to do so would dishonor that casket that came home draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Everyone has the right to religious freedom. This includes the right of thought, conscience, and religion; this includes our right to change our religion or belief. Freedoms of religion allow us to teach, worship, and observe as we please. The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Nowhere in the first amendment does it say that there should be separation of church and state. Every time I go to church, I think of some of the religious freedoms we are losing because of the zealots who think that separation of church and state is written in the constitution. I want to be able to say under God in the Pledge of Allegiance. I want to pray with a group of friends in school. I want to sing Christmas carols, and I want to pray at graduation. Please remember that coffin draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Freedom is taken for granted by most of us, spit upon by some of us, and cherished by a few. Some of those who cherish freedom are willing to come together to promise to protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This is a dream of freedom and the right to preserve it. One such person was my brother, Sergeant Cory Ryan Mracek. Cory loved his country. He was a soldier who was proud, had honor and courage. He joined the Army after high school and did his four years. He returned to his home but after September 11, 2001, he knew that his country needed him. He wanted to help in the fight against terror. He was one who joined to accept the price, the calling of having to leave behind everything he loved, to go to a country where people hated him, and all he stood for. He is draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Fallen Hero by M. Doris Fuller

I saw your Mother on television today.
Her face was sad as her tears flowed.
I have never met you or heard your name,
But you’re someone I wish I could know.

It seems hero’s lives may be too short,
But your death will help others be free. They say you died doing what you love
Because you love all Americans like me.

As I watch the bombs blast that desert city,
I know there are many young people like you
Who answered the call to the freedom fight?
I shall pray they not be a fallen hero too.

Your Dad’s face was unhappy and drawn,
As your casket his body was draped.
In his hands he was clutching “Old Glory,”
While praying his sorrow he couldn’t escape.

You gave everything you had to your country,
To your convictions you were forever true.
Fallen hero today you, America must honor
A soldier killed defending the RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

We have an obligation to stand up strongly in a society where freedom is taken for granted. We have a responsibility to the armed forces, to all the men and women who have lost their lives and to those that are still fighting, we need to support them. The armed forces protect our lives and the lives of our friends. We have the right to choose who we want to be in office. Along with that right comes the responsibility to be informed and educated in our opinions. We should use our freedom to vote to make sure that we elect people who care about our freedom are in office to protect us. We have a duty to that coffin draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Fear sometimes makes us lose sight of the freedoms we enjoy. Are we willing to trade some of our freedom for personal security? Is it too much to ask to open our bags when we get on an airplane so that they can check for weapons? Does it impose too much of our time? Should they check our bags when we get on the subway or a train? This does take away some of our freedom, but wouldn’t we rather be alive when we get to our final destination on that trip? Does freedom of the press mean that we should allow the media to be beside our soldiers at all times, even though it means that they are now in more danger because of it? Where is their freedom to do their jobs as they need to be done. Is our right to know more important than their safety and security? Where is the fair reporting that shows all the good things that are happening in Iraq? These are some hard questions. I personally do not believe that our soldiers should have to deal with the media every day. I am willing to give up that freedom to save their lives. In a poll taken in 2002, many Americans view some fundamental freedoms as possible obstacles to the war on terror. When President Bush addressed the nation in September, he cautioned us “freedom and fear are at war.” He noted that the terrorists targeted the United States because we embrace liberty. “The terrorists hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote, and assemble and disagree with each other,” the President said. The Iraqi’s now have some of the freedoms we enjoy. They have had several elections; they can speak their minds without worrying about being killed or having their hands cut off. Saddam Hussein is now on trial. I am sure that most of the Iraqi’s would like to take him and kill him, like he did to so many of them, but they are learning about rights and freedom. They will hold his trial and give him that right. The terrorists are so afraid of these freedoms that they kill their own people. They try to scare their own citizen’s from something that is so important to almost all Iraqi’s. They will prevail and Sgt. Cory Mracek will not have died in vain. He was so proud of the RED, WHITE, and BLUE.


The Red, White, and Blue by Jess Witherow

When I look at the flag what do I see?
The men and women who have died for me.
When I see the red,
I think of all the blood,
They have shed.
When I see the white,
I think of how hard they have to fight.
When I see the blue so bright,
I think of all the lonely nights.
When I see the flag,
I think of the freedom
Throughout this great land!

I found the Pledge of Allegiance as recited by Red Skeleton on his television show and thought it was worth repeating:
“I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word

I—me, an individual, a committee of one

Pledge—dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.

Allegiance---my love and my devotion.

To the flag---our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

United---that means that we have all come together.

States---individual communities that have united into 48 great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose: all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for country.

And to the republic---a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands, one nation—one nation, meaning, “so blessed by God”

Indivisible—incapable of being divided

With liberty---which is freedom—the right of power to live one’s own life without threats, fear or some sort of retaliation.

And Justice—the principal or quality of dealing fairly with others.

For all---which means boy and girls, its as much your country as it is mine.

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country
And two words have been added to the pledge of Allegiance
UNDER GOD
Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools too?
God Bless America”

Red Skeleton was a comedian. He died many years ago, but now someone is trying to take the words under God from our schools. Wouldn’t it be a pity to lose sight of the RED, WHITE, and BLUE?

The challenges for all of us, especially in these trying times, is to truly hold in our arms and fight for the freedoms we have and to recognize that sometimes for safety we must understand that even freedom has some boundaries.

FREEDOM IS A RIGHT WE HAVE BUT FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
MY BROTHER PLUS A WHOLE LOT MOREDIED FOR YOU AND ME.

I KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO HEAR
THAT 21-GUN SALUTE
THE SOUND OF TAPS SO NEAR
THE FLAG SO NEATLY FOLDED UP


THE PURPLE HEART, THE BRONZE STAR,
THE TEARS, THE PRIDE, THE PAIN
THE 82ND AIRBORNE CAME THIS FAR
MY BROKEN HEART DRAPED IN RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.

Freedom is not free because of you, my big brother
SGT Cory Mracek
I love you and miss you!