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Clack: Freedom is never free
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Each November 11 is the one day a year to honor those Americans who have served in our country's military- Veterans- men and women from all ethnic and economic backgrounds-have served, sacrificed and understood that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

Veterans and their families have paid the price in peace and in times of strife throughout the history of our country. In World War II, 14% of America's population served in the military. Since 9/11 less than 1% of all Americans have served in the military.

While November 11 is the day to honor all Veterans, our military, and their families, the vast majority of Americans generally view this day as a day off from work, a day to sleep late, a day to go to the mall sales or just another day of school, work, and play. Yet, on this day we will be safe, secure, warm, dry, clothed and fed, while our sons and daughters serve "In Harm's Way," and pay the price for all of us to enjoy our way of life.

There is an old saying, "God and soldier/all men adore/in times of trouble/and no more/For when the fighting is over/and all things righted/GOD is neglected/and the Soldier is slighted."

In America that is true. Our school systems no longer observes VETERANS DAY, and our children learn less and less about the sacrifices of their fellow Americans. Businesses do not close their doors. Such VETERANS DAY functions as parades and banquets are organized by Veterans and attended by Veterans and their families.

Through TV shows and movies, which try to portray the reality of war and its impact, we can visualize what Veterans have been through. Most Veterans never had a TOUR OF DUTY at a CHINA BEACH; but, all Veterans served IN HARM'S WAY and most served in PLATOONS, while experiencing an APOCALYPSE NOW as a LONE SURVIVOR.

Many a CASUALITY OF WAR occurred on HAMBURGER HILL, PORK CHOP HILL, on the SANDS OF IWO JIMA, at 12 O'CLOCK HIGH, while fighting at MIDWAY, PEARL HARBOUR; and, while participating as a team in RUN SILENT/RUN DEEP, BLACK HAWK DOWN, the SOUTH PACIFIC and D-DAY. Each military man and woman lived every day as THE LONGEST DAY, while experiencing THE HURT LOCKER on missions SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

GARDENS OF STONE have over 1,312,000 Americans, who died while serving in the military, buried in their hallowed grounds. PURPLE HEART (s), for being wounded in combat, have been awarded to 1,768,000 Americans. POW (Prisoners of War) camps, like the HANOI HILTON, have imprisoned over 142,000 Americans. Today, over 99,000 Americans are still MISSING IN ACTION.

While every commander would have loved to have had one RAMBO, the reality is that America's BAND OF BROTHERS have had over 40,000,000 Americans, throughout our history, who have been COMING HOME after eliminating KILLING FIELDS around the world.

Our first President, George Washington, who also led our nation to its independence, told our new Country "The best way to prevent a war is to be prepared to fight a war." Our "preparedness," thanks to our Veterans, has kept us and many other countries free. Later, in our Country's history, President John F. Kennedy would say "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, support any friend, oppose any foe, endure any hardship to insure the success and survival of liberty."

On this VETERANS DAY let us all thank our Veterans, military, and their families and remember the price paid by this select, small and unique group of Americans; and, who have given us the opportunities we have enjoyed and taken for granted throughout our history.

Finally, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln "It is for us the living and free, to be dedicated to the unfinished work, which they have thus far so nobly advanced."