December 14, 2001

Commentary

"Is Freedom Really Free?"

(Editors Note: Vincenzo Ruffino is an 8th grade student at Rancho del Rey Middle School in Chula Vista. Ruffino reflects on the meaning of Veterans Day.)

By Vincenzo P. Ruffino

"...O'er the land of the free..." this is what our National Anthem says, but is it true? Is our freedom really free? In a sense it is and it isn't. It is free for the journalists who have a right to write about what ever they want. It is free for all of us that practice any religion we want or have the freedom of speech. But, all of this freedom isn't free! Because some American had to fight and die to give us our freedom. Our freedom has made America strong, rich, fearsome, and the land of opportunity. That is why no one wants t escape from America, but instead, large numbers of people everyday line up at our border to come to America.

The way we earned our freedom was through the wars that we had to fight. One war allowed us to have freedom; another war almost tore our country apart; and in a later war, foreigners threatened to take our freedom away. Our largest and probably most important war was the Revolutionary War. The Revolutionary War allowed us to separate from Great Britain and form our own union. Our founding fathers designed our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights, which created this grand free country. But did that freedom come free? Of course not. Men died fighting off the British forces. The same thing happened with the Civil War. Union (Federal) soldiers had to fight the Confederates (American Rebels) to keep the country together. At times foreign armies (such as Japan, Germany, and Italy in World War II) threatened our freedom and we had to fight them off as well. So as you can see, our freedom isn't really that free, it cost the lives of many brave American service men and women.

In planning this essay, I interviewed John Smith. He is a Vietnam War Veteran. He has one Purple Heart and fought in the Navy. Mr. Smith is the Director of Public Affairs at the Veterans Home of California, Chula Vista. I asked him, "Mr. Smith, do you feel our `freedom is really free?'" His answer, "No. The best evidence that freedom is not free is at Rosecrans National Cemetery or any other national cemetery.

Freedom has to be protected, and blood is the price. The red on our flag stands for the blood of the service men and women who died. Freedom is very valuable. It is not like you can go to Target or Walmart and buy freedom. But you have the freedom to go to Target and Walmart to buy food, cloths, and other accessories. People from other countries are angry with America because we have so much freedom, that is why they attack us; and because they don't feel secure in their own country. They don't know if they are going to wake up tomorrow morning; they don't know if the secret police will arrest them, they won't know if they will have enough food to eat the night for dinner. That is something we don't have to worry about in America."

Since the terrorist attacks, I now understand how valuable our freedom really is. In conclusion, like Mr. Smith said, "...It's not like you can go to Target or Walmart and buy freedom..." I now understand, that the reason why those terrorists attacked us, was because they are jealous of our way of life and that we have more freedom than they do. Our freedom needs to be protected. That is what our service men and women are doing in Afghanistan: protecting our freedom with the ultimate sacrifice if needed... their lives. So is freedom really free? Absolutely not! It has been acquired with many lives and a strong commitment to our principles and to our beliefs. Not everyone in the world has our freedom. Freedom is more than just a word; it's something very valuable and priceless.

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