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Understanding the cost of freedom

As we approach Veterans Day, we should take some time and reflect on what this country might be like if we did not have so many men and women willing to put their lives on the line to defend this great country.

The visualization is not pleasant. Anyone who believes that freedom is free — that it comes without sacrifice — is greatly mistaken.

It can be easy to take for granted all that we have as United States citizens.

Life has its ups and downs, but for the most part we are very fortunate to have the freedoms and opportunities that we do. These rights are only possible because of the brave service that our military has performed since the founding of this country.

Dating back to our nation’s infancy, the Founding Fathers recognized the necessity for a strong, unified national defense.

They were men who, for much of their lives, stared into the face of tyranny, and understood that the fight for liberty, no matter how difficult, was well worth the effort.

Our military forces have remained committed to that mission ever since.

I have had the opportunity to provide medical service to numerous soldiers during my time in the National Guard and in the War on Terror.

Seeing the wounds and injuries some of these men and women endure is a reminder of just how costly freedom can be. Unfortunately, freedom is sometimes even more costly than that.

It is a testament to our armed forces to know that those individuals take the responsibility of defending our country so seriously that they are willing to put their lives on the line to defend it.

Everyone who has ever worn the uniform of our country has faced risks and ventured into the unknown.

At the start of my own military career, I would never have believed that I would serve multiple combat tours in the Middle East or that thousands of other reserve and National Guard soldiers would do even more.

I can honestly say that after 21 years in uniform, I would do it all again. It was a privilege to serve with the great people in our military. I will continue to support and honor them for the rest of my life.

Sometimes we confuse the meaning of Veterans Day with Memorial Day. While the two occasions are similar, they do have one key difference.

Whereas Memorial Day honors all of those who died for our country, Veterans Day honors everyone who has served, which provides us a great opportunity to express our gratitude to a veteran in person.

I have had the privilege of talking to countless military personnel and veterans over the years, and I know how meaningful a simple thank you can be.

Veterans Day also serves as a necessary reminder that we are all Americans. Sometimes we allow our differences—however subtle they may be — to define who we are.

Politics is a perfect example. Our nation and state is going through a very divisive time right now, but at the end of the day we must realize that our similarities greatly outweigh our differences.

We must all recognize and appreciate the fact that men and women of all different backgrounds and ideologies have shed blood to make this country exceptional.

This Friday, be sure to say thank you.

Rep. Terry Johnson may be reached by calling (614) 466-2124, e-mailing District89@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Terry Johnson, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.