Freedom Is Not Free

flag soldiersI 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.


mother criesI thought … how many men like him

Had fallen through the years?

How many died on foreign soil?

How many mothers’ tears?



airforceHow many pilot’s planes shot down?

How many died at sea?

How many foxholes were soldiers graves?

~ No … Freedom is not Free! ~650-arlington-national-cemetery ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““


I heard the sound of Taps one night,

When everything was still;

I listened to the bugler play,

And felt a sudden chill;


iraq-flag-draped-coffinsI wondered just how many times

That Taps had meant “Amen,”

When a flag had draped a coffin

Of a brother or a friend;


 soldier saying goodbye~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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!

~ Kelly Strong 1981 ~

This poem was written by a high school senior (JROTC cadet) at Homestead High, Homestead, FL. in 1981. It is a tribute to his father, a career marine who served two tours in Vietnam.

Kelly served as an active duty Coast Guard pilot and at the US Coast Guard Aviation Training Center.

Website | + posts

Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

13 thoughts on “Freedom Is Not Free”

  1. As someone whose family has lost servicemen, thanks for posting this very moving poem.

  2. Mary, absolutely breathtaking! Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderfully, heartwarming poem, which gives us all pause to thank our soldiers for what they do to protect us. Your selection of pictures tell a story in itself. Thank you for a memorable post. One I certainly will never forget. What a special tribute!

  3. It’s a beautiful poem and beautiful pictures. I can only take credit for recognizing it. 🙂
    I think the meaning of Memorial Day is being lost. I don’t even get to the cemetery most years.

    And the military memorial is the real point. My grandfather, father and three brothers-brother-in-law, and now a niece have served.

  4. My niece is scheduled to head for Afghanistan soon, so the price we all pay for freedom is very real to me right now.

    She’s already done a tour in Iraq.

    A wonderful young lady that we’re very proud of.

  5. Lovely tribute, Mary!

    I am thankful that the 18 family members who have served our country, beginning with W.W.II, have all returned home safely. Sadly all the older uncles and cousins are gone. We are blessed to still have four from the Viet Nam era and four from the Iraqi conflicts with us. Every day I include all our military members, as well as all our home-grown first responders, in my prayers.
    God Bless America!

    Pat Cochran

  6. Mary, I don’t know where you found this but it’s very special. I was moved to tears. It’s a wonderful tribute to our men and women in uniform. We are truly blessed to live in a free democratic country.

  7. Being in the military isn’t for everyone. My husband retired after 24 years in the AF. I should say we retired. Most people don’t realize how much of a family thing it is. Your whole life revolves around the military member’s schedules and deployments. He was an AF brat so was used to the life style. Having always been foot loose and a volunteer, it worked out well for me.
    The military families today are fortunate to have the community support they do. They need it and it is deserved. During Vietnam it was difficult for service members and their families. Not only were they not supported, but they were often harassed. Your military family was more important than ever.
    It unfortunately is a necessary way of life. Be thankful there are those who are doing it so you can live your life the way you choose.
    My husband remembers the lack of support and a thank you that we all dealt with during the 60’s and 70’s. He now works as a postal clerk in a small local post office. There are many families mailing care packages to family service members in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once a month he picks a different one and pays the postage for them telling them we appreciate what their son/daughter/husband is doing. ( I know how much just a thank you would have meant to me. )
    It is easy to do something for those who have served or are now serving. Let them know you appreciate their sacrifice. There is always the chance you may not be able to.

Comments are closed.