A man who had been a U.S. Army medic during World War II once shared what he was the memory he would carry with him for the rest of his days.
His unit was among those that recaptured the Maginot Line from the Germans. This was a series of French forts the Germans had taken early in the war.
He entered a bunker and found several dead German soldiers, lying side by side with their arms folded across their chests.
“Each one had a bullet hole in his forehead,” he said.
Those men had been wounded, not seriously — from what he could see — but in a way that would have left them unable to walk unaided.
“The Germans were retreating,” he said, “and they shot their own men so they wouldn’t have to be burdened with taking them along.” (He explained that if you kill an enemy soldier, you eliminate only one soldier. If you wound him, you also eliminate those who have to carry him.)
“That was the day I realized the extent of the evil we were fighting,” he said.
Some time back, a History Channel show featured a family that escaped from East Germany to West Germany by using a home-made balloon. It took them two tries.
The father of this family said nobody can truly appreciate the nature of freedom except for those who don’t have it.
We respect his opinion — he certainly is entitled to it — but we disagree.
There are many others (and they are not just limited to Americans, because other countries are part of what refer to “the Free World)” who also can appreciate it.
Our friend, the former medic, would be among them. He and millions of others living today are able to appreciate freedom because they have seen what it’s like for people who do not have freedom, and they are aware of the price that sometimes must be paid to keep it.
They have paid that price themselves, and so have their families. They also know of others who had to pay a higher price than they did.
Today is Memorial Day. Let each of us remember those who are responsible for our freedom.