About The Privileged Burden of Freedom
Commissioned for 9/11 Remembrance
I was greatly honored to receive an email from Phil Taylor of The American Fallen Soldiers Project asking if I would be interested in writing an address (speech) in lieu of the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Without hesitation I said yes. Phil shared the below writing on September 9th at a portrait presentation to the family of a fallen soldier. This is not a blog or a writing, it is a short speech, an address. Therefore, it is written in certain ways grammatically with reason.
The Privileged Burden of Freedom
In the midst of the darkest of times, while evil attempted to wave its finger of intolerance, Martin Treptow made a pledge. Leaving his small town barbershop, Martin chose to fight in the war to end all wars, World War I. While carrying a message between battalions, Martin paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of freedom. When he was recovered, on his person was found a journal and in this journal, Martin penned under the heading of "My Pledge" these words:
America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will
save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully
and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle
depended on me alone.
And here we find ourselves, a nation remembering another day in our history that will
"live in infamy." A day in which evil revealed its face of destruction only to be pushed
back by the common quiet strength of America, our love of freedom. For the attempt of
darkness to encompass the day is always thwarted and defeated by a single flicker of
candle light. And so it is when tyranny attempts to overrun freedom. While many in
the media make much of the darkness of the moment, much more must be made of the
failure of terrorism in that hour. While 9/11 demonstrated the depravity of our enemy,
9/12 demonstrated the one commonality of the American soul -freedom. While 9/11
displayed a temporary darkness on the American landscape, the sun rose on the morning
of September 12 as if it were quoting Longfellow:
. . . Sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
For truly the fate of humanity, and hope for many hopeless around the world, depends
upon this beacon of hope and freedom that you and I call home, America. Yes Martin
-America must win this war.
Moreover, with the 9/11 memorials come a somber warning from history: when a
people become pacifist in the face of evil, in the eye of tyranny, surely evil can prevail.
For the destruction reigned upon Germany and the regions of Europe during the dark
days of World War II demonstrates what can happen when freedom is relinquished. And
to this day, German pastor Martin Niemoller brings this lesson of history to the present
with his haunting words:
They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up
because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because
I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak
up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to
speak up -for me.
Niemoller reminds us that freedom is not guaranteed, unless the good of a civilization
stands against the intolerant forces of wrong. For freedom must be desired, must be
cherished, and must be the life-breathe of a people. And you and I bear this privileged
burden of liberty. And from 9/11, that is what we cannot forget.
So what is our privileged burden of freedom? The willingness to sacrifice. To follow
those who have blazed this trail of freedom before us, who lost their fortunes, which gave of themselves to the point of breaking and then gave that much more. And yes possibly following their path, the willingness of our forbearers, in giving of our own lives. Our privileged burden of freedom is found in the simple willingness to bear the pledge given to us by Martin Treptow so many decades ago: to work, to save, to sacrifice, to fight cheerfully to do our utmost as if the issue of the whole struggle, depends upon me and me alone. For America, in the face of tyranny, must always win the war.
We do not take lightly the potential sacrifice that comes with freedom. But may we be
reminded of the words of President Kennedy, and proclaim to the nations of the world
whether they wish us "well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any
hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of
May we join together, honoring those from the first fight waged against this current
darkness on flight 93 to those who have passed in the line of battle since; and say in one
unison voice against the powers of evil: We are Americans, and we have yet to begin
the fight. And may we, quoting Churchill, who too faced great tyranny, proclaim to
those enslaved and to those who enslave, "We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down."
Our prayer shall be this privileged burden of freedom. When the time comes and we
have forged another hill in the crusade against darkness, we will remember the statue of
those Marines lifting high our Flag. With that same willingness, we will place our hands
on a pole dawning Old Glory and we too shall push and lift that Flag high. And on that
mountaintop, as we raise that Flag high we will be proclaiming to all: that freedom has
triumphed, that yet again darkness has lost, and that the light of freedom, Her glorious
light, shall never perish from this earth. Yes Martin, we too shall win this war. Amen.
(C) 2011 by Jeremy Dunlap (Jer). The Privileged Burden of Freedom commissioned by
The American Fallen Soldier Project.
Jeremy Dunlap (Jer) is national speaker, writer, and trainer. Working with clients across the country, Jeremy Dunlap (Jer) holds no higher honor than his work with the United States Military and Special Forces Community, both which he dearlyloves. www.JeremyDunlap.com