Sedona AZ (November 9, 2016) – “Freedom Is Not Free” was first coined by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Walter Hitchcock of New Mexico Military Institute.
Per Project 21 member Charles Butler, the idiom is meant to express gratitude for the service of members of the military, implicitly stating that the freedoms enjoyed by those living in democracies today are only possible due to the risks taken and sacrifices made by those in the armed services. It conveys respect — specifically to those who have given their lives in defense of our freedom.
This Friday, Nov. 11, the United States of America will be celebrating Veterans Day. I want to provide a brief history on the establishment of this hallowed day and the number of veterans that provided the ultimate sacrifice to their country. This sacrifice reinforces the statement in my last City Talk article, about Vietnam veterans, when I wrote, “All gave some, some gave all.”
In the United States’ first 100 years of existence, over 683,000 Americans lost their lives in the defense of this nation, with the Civil War accounting for 623,026 of that total. Comparatively, in the next 100 plus years, another 626,000 Americans died through two world wars and several more regional conflicts, with World War II representing 405,399 deaths.
History of Veterans Day
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, World War I — known at the time as “The Great War” — officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. However, in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history, after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.”
In addition, remember that not all military veterans stood on two legs; we also must remember the veterans that stood on four legs. We may never know when the first dog accompanied a human soldier into battle, but historical records indicate that the Romans used armored dogs.
The roots of America’s official war-dog training program go back to the early 1940s. In the wake of the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941, professional breeders and the American Kennel Club helped create the Dogs for Defense campaign. American military dogs first saw battle action in 1942, when four-legged “soldiers” joined the Quartermaster Corps in North Africa.
The following poem “Guardians of the Night” [Author unknown] is dedicated to our four-legged veterans:
“Trust in me, my friend, for I am your comrade
I will protect you with my last breath
When all others have left you and the loneliness of the night closes in, I will be at your side
Together we will conquer all obstacles, and search out those who might wish harm to others
All I ask of you is compassion, the caring touch of your hands
It is for you that I will unselfishly give my life, and spend my nights unrested
Although our days together may be marked by the passing of the seasons, know that each day at your side is my reward
My days are measured by the coming and going of your footsteps
I anticipate them at every opening of the door
You are the voice of caring when I am ill
The voice of authority when I’ve done wrong
Do not chastise me unduly, for I am your right arm, the sword at your side
I attempt to do only what you bid of me
I seek only to please you and remain in your favor
Together you and I shall experience a bond only others like us will understand
When outsiders see us together, their envy will be measured by their disdain
I will quietly listen to you and pass no judgement, nor will your spoken words be repeated
I will remain ever silent, ever vigilant, and ever loyal
And when our time together is done and you move on in the world, remember me with kind thoughts and tales, for a time we were unbeatable
Nothing passed among us undetected
If we should meet again on another street I will gladly take up your fight
I am a military working dog, and together we are guardians of the night.”
The views that I have expressed are my personal opinions and not necessarily the opinions of the City of Sedona or the City Council.