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Freedom Isn't Free
Kelly Strong


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:
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
Right on!!!
Posted 05/31/2015 08:54 AM
so much respect, so true
Posted 05/31/2015 08:36 AM
true and beautiful...
Posted 05/31/2015 07:42 AM
A wonderful tribute.
Posted 05/30/2015 11:59 PM

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