, Muskogee, OK

September 11, 2011

9/11 reminds us freedom is not free

By Forrest Kirk
Local view

— Veterans, like others, have varying opinions on 9/11 and subsequent conduct of the resultant two wars.

These opinions range from “Nuke them until they glow” to “we have no business being over there and never should have gone.”

However, virtually all veterans are united on several points, “It is an honor to serve; we must defend our country; and we must support our troops and their families.”

The infamous first successful assault on the Continental United States since the War of 1812 and follow-on events has had and continues to have a significant negative psychological and spiritual effect on some of our veterans. The magnitude is evident with alarming rates of suicide, all forms of interpersonal abuse, substance abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a full range of mental disorders, all exacerbated by 9/11 and subsequent events.

Veterans are a microcosm of society, but veterans are directly affected by the ravages of war as well as other issues affecting our society.

9/11 reminds us, as a society, that freedom is not free and that leadership in the world is difficult and costly. For the citizens of this country, and most especially veterans, the blood of our men and women which is spilled to uphold and enforce our nation’s interests is the fundamental and primary cost of being a superpower and leader in the world.

Virtually every individual who has sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and donned the military uniform wants the American way of life to continue. Each of these individuals, one by one, decided that America is worth it. Therefore, each one puts his or her life and limb at the disposal of the nation’s leadership.

“Support Our Troops” is a rallying cry like “Remember the Alamo,” “Let’s roll,” and “We will leave no one behind.” Whether a veteran agrees or disagrees with current policies, veterans support the ones who have obligated themselves to carrying out those policies.

A source of our greatness as a free nation is the ability to have citizens with diversity, individuality, and personal agendas unify to support and maintain our way of life.

September 11th is a reminder that we cannot be complacent; and, at the same time, we are obligated to take care of those (veterans) who risk it all.

Luke 12:48b (NIV) “For everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The context of the verse speaks to watchfulness and stewardship which is an appropriate metaphor for the world’s only superpower.

Veterans seek thoughtful and wise stewardship in the deployment of our troops.  

We all must not let their labor and sacrifice be in vain.

Forrest Kirk is chaplain at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.