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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I do not wish for my name to appear in your column as a contributor. I am only eager to impress on people what they owe the servicemen and women who have fought and died over the years protecting the freedom we enjoy. Not only the men and women who have died, but their wives, husbands, sweethearts, parents and children all paid a tremendous price for the freedom that many -- especially the younger generation -- take for granted.

We, whose loved ones survived these horrible holocausts of history, realize only too fully that "There but for the grace of God ..."

While the memories of horrors endured will always remain with the men and women who came back, they at least came back. For that they are forever grateful. They never forget their buddies who weren't so lucky. May the rest of the world also remember.

I'm enclosing a poem that you may want to share with your readers, Abby. -- PATRIOTIC READER, CASA GRANDE, ARIZ.

DEAR READER: Your poem is a poignant reminder of the price paid for the freedom many take for granted. Readers, today -- Memorial Day -- please take a moment to reflect on this poem, which was written as a tribute to our military who gave their all:


I watched the flag pass by one day.

It fluttered in the breeze.

A young Marine saluted it, and then

He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform

So young, so tall, so proud,

With hair cut square and eyes alert.

He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him

Had fallen through the years.

How many died on foreign soil?

How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?

How many died at sea?

How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?

No, freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,

When everything was still.

I listened to the bugler play

And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times

That taps had meant "Amen,"

When a flag had draped a coffin

Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,

Of the mothers and the wives,

Of fathers, sons and husbands

With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard

At the bottom of the sea

Of unmarked graves in Arlington.

No, freedom is not free.


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