Remember freedom is not free

By David Barkemeyer

Milam County Judge


Another Memorial Day has come and gone and again I was asked as a county official to stand on the court house square before the memorial to those Milam County citizens who died for our country and say a few words.

I always feel like I’ve got to somehow explain why. I say things like “freedom is not free,” these men died so we can remain free.  Last year I recalled the oath we all take when we enter the military or assume office wherein we swear to “defend the constitution of the United States.”

In last week’s article I commented that I would not be running for county judge again after this term due to term limits; the thought has occurred to me that a good reason for term limits is stress, like that caused by having to keep trying to answer difficult questions that always seem to come up to keep you squirming when you’re in public office.

While I was watching the Byron Nelson golf tournament Sunday afternoon, former president George W. Bush sat down with the commentators and was talking about the work he is doing to help retired wounded veterans.  I also saw some pictures of his paintings of disabled veterans in the latest issue of the AARP magazine.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a former elected official who actually had to send men and women off to foreign lands to die or possibly be disabled in battle, or to be president when all those people died in New York or at the Pentagon on 911.

Answering difficult questions is obviously no comparison to a president’s responsibility of committing soldiers to die in battle as reason for limiting a person’s length of service as a result of that kind of stress.  And I’m certainly not saying that either one compares to the sacrifice of the soldier that gives his life or his limb or his health in service to his country.  And I would bet that both former President Bush as well as even former President Harry Truman would agree with me.  Memorial Day appropriately commemorates those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But the greater question in all of this is why is it necessary in the first place, generation after generation, for humans to persist in trying to destroy each other?  Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, finally gave up trying to figure it out and declared, “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.”