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Freedom Isn't Free
by
Kelly Strong


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I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze;
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform,
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought . . . how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?

How many pilots’ planes shot down
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves
No, Freedom is not Free.

I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still;
I listened to the bugler play,
And felt a sudden chill;

I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend;

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands.
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No. Freedom is not Free!

©Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong
Used with the author’s permission.


Kelly Strong composed this poem when he was a senior at Homestead High School in Homestead, Florida, serving as a Junior ROTC cadet. It was written as a tribute to his father, a career marine who served two tours in Vietnam. Kelly is now a married father of three and resides in Mobile, Alabama.  He is retired from the Coast Guard after 24 years service and is a Captain at a major U.S. Airline. 

 


Post New Comment:
KCH:
Kelly, my company holds an annual Flag Raising ceremony every Friday before Memorial Day. This year will mark the 19th year of the tradition. My father read your poem at the ceremony in 2017. He too was a Vietnam veteran, and retired after 31 years of service in Army special operations aviation. He unexpectedly passed away 2 weeks later. I thought it important for you to know, that your poem, has been proudly read at the ceremony every year since then. I plan to read it tomorrow for the entire company to here. Very well done Kelly. Your words couldn't be anymore true and inspirational. Sincerely, KC
Posted 05/21/2020 11:18 AM
sperry9055@gmail.com:
KELLY, I READ YOUR POEM AT OUR MEMORIAL CEREMONY TODAY, MAY 27, 2019. THE CEREMONY IS HELD AT OUR COMMUNITY CENTER HERE IN OCALA FL AT OUR Del Webb STONE COMMUNITY. THE VETERANS ASSOCIATION HERE HOLDS THIS CEREMONY ANNUALLY TO HONOR THOSE DIED FOR OUR FREEDOM. I SING WITH OUR GLEE CLUB THAT SINGS PATRIOTIC MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY. LAST YEAR ONE OF THE MEMBERS FOUND YOUR POEM AND I WAS SELECTED TO READ IT. IT BROUGHT TEARS TO MANY OF THE RESIDENTS. THANK YOU FOR WRITTING THIS POEM AND SUCH A YOUNG AGE.
Posted 05/27/2019 02:55 PM
Supa:
A very powerful poem and so true. I will print this to read again. Well written and well expressed. Thank you
Posted 05/31/2015 12:13 PM
paradea:
Right on!!!
Posted 05/31/2015 08:54 AM
Cindy:
so much respect, so true
Posted 05/31/2015 08:36 AM
mimi:
true and beautiful...
Posted 05/31/2015 07:42 AM
rhonasheridan:
A wonderful tribute.
Posted 05/30/2015 11:59 PM


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