The military and firearm industries, more than any others, understand freedom is not free. Some paid the ultimate price while serving in this great republic’s armed forces and their willingness to go in harm’s way to protect our freedom is honored each year on Memorial Day.
Across the nation, gatherings will take place in recognition of that sacrifice. Perhaps the most widely recognized is the presidential laying of a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For a variety of reasons, including security concerns, it doesn’t always take place, although it comes close to being an annual event. President Joe Biden participated last year and will likely do so again.
Nearby, on Washington, D.C.’s mall, a wreath will also be laid at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The “Wall,” as it’s often called, bears the names of the more than 58,000 members of our armed forces who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.
A parade will roll down Constitution Avenue in the nation’s capital that afternoon. A National Memorial Day Concert will follow. Cities and military bases across the nation will host parades and events. Then backyard grills will fire up, neighbors will gather and summer unofficially launches with that first hot dog or burger.
Hopefully, the day’s real message seeps through. For the firearm industry, though, it’s remembered 24/7/365, and many companies honor the fallen and their survivors through philanthropic programs. Henry Repeating Arms, for example, is among the leaders on that front. It donated $300,000 last fall to the benefit of a variety of groups that aid those who served, are serving or the families of those who never made it home.
Organizations dedicated to that cause do yeoman’s work and deserve more recognition. The Fisher House Foundation, for example, “…builds comfort homes where military & veteran families can stay free of charge, while a loved one is in the hospital.” In most cases, they recover. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
More than 100 years ago, an unidentified American who died in uniform during World War I became the first to be interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. From that somber ceremony, the foundation for Memorial Day was laid.
He’s still there, along with others from wars this great republic has fought. They serve as a stark reminder that freedom is never free, and some paid the ultimate price.