The price of freedom is eternal vigilance

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David E. Wilshek
  • 11th Wing
As we look to celebrate our nation's Independence Day, our fellow warriors are serving around the globe to insure America remains strong and free. Each of you, as part of the "Chief's Own," plays a vital role in protecting and preserving our American way of life, ensuring our children and our children's children will remain free.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Our forefathers who settled this great nation paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution powerfully speak to us of our rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," and that "we uphold these truths self evident, that all men are created equal." As a member of our armed forces and the greatest Air Force the world has ever known, you play a vital role in defending the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. You have the honor to hold the liberty torch of freedom high to the entire world.

The blanket of freedom we sleep under is woven in red, white and blue with the threads of service, sacrifice and the blood shed by our fallen warriors on the field of battle. These heroes and patriots loved their nation, family and you so much they gladly responded to our nation's call to defend her.

In my deployment to Balad, Iraq as the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain from April to September 2005, my chapel team and I cared for over 2,000 wounded warriors in the midst of 175 rocket and mortar attacks. Not once did a wounded warrior complain or ask, "Why me?" Every patriot we visited only asked for prayers for their families back home and for their buddies in the field. Daily I was part of the 332nd AEW that provided spiritual support to our troops on the ground, as well as caring for the wounded and one another as our Airmen's Creed states. This September I will have the honor to return to the area of responsiblity serving our forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan, providing pastoral care to those in harm's way, helping to reform the Afghan police and defense sectors in order to develop a stable Afghanistan, strengthen the rule of law, and deter and defeat terrorism within its borders.

We are humbled and honored to walk in the steps of patriot warriors who proceeded us in serving this great nation and in protecting its freedom. You can clearly see this at Arlington National Cemetery, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Vietnam Memorial and at the World War II Memorial.

Each of you in the 11th Wing contributes mightily in the preservation of freedom and plays a key role in the fight for freedom. Each of you is at the capstone of our nation's defense. Your families also are key players as they provide a home filled with warmth and love, keeping the home fires burning while we are deployed and welcoming us home when we return. They are our heroes, and my wife and son are my heroes.

The world dreams of having the freedoms we experience daily. You as the protectors and preservers of freedom have the highest calling that a grateful nation deeply appreciates. Thank you also for protecting my wife and son.
My prayer for you this Fourth of July and every day is for God's strength as you stand watch to protect and preserve our freedom. As you consider the ultimate sacrifice paid by our military since we fought for our independence and continue to do so around the globe, may you be strengthened in your service to our nation.

Thank you for protecting our nation and preserving our freedom. May God bless you and may God bless America!