Freedom Isn’t Free: A Veteran’s Story

I grew up on amazing stories of how the roads got wound into tight knots around my house and lost brides became ghosts. Later, the fairy tales were replaced with war stories of incredible bravery and survival. There were dozens of stories. In these stories, enemy fire landed beside him and didn’t go off or in the place behind him after he left.

Entire teams of guys were killed, and he was the only survivor…multiple times. They were his mates, his buddies, his family. But he had a family back home to get home to too; a wife and three young sons were praying for him. Back then, there was no internet, video chatting, or other instant forms of communication. They wrote letters.

Every time God saved him was a confirmation that there was something more in store for him. After multiple tours, multiple dangers, and multiple saves, he finally returned home. Then he was assigned to a base in Colorado. There his eldest son met the love of his life and married her. He finally retired and moved back to Carolina. Not long after, his newly married son and daughter-in-law had me.

The bulk of my childhood was spent going back and forth between Colorado and Carolina. We spent three days on the road just getting from one state to the other. Instead of theme parks and vacation spots, our summers were dedicated to family. I didn’t mind. For me, nothing could be better than grandmama’s house, curling up in granddaddy’s lap, and hearing his stories.

We were spoiled on local pickles, french fries, and Southern-style barbecue. We dug our toes into the sands of Topsail Beach, went shopping, and stayed up late watching movies. And every year, about this time, I realize it all would not have happened if he hadn’t made it back home alive.

Ernest Whitman is not ashamed of his service; he wears it proudly. He doesn’t hide his stories. Ask him about anything, and he will tell you. Not every veteran came home so freely…especially from Vietnam. Nor were they welcomed as they should have been. But in my family, he is and always will be a hero. To many of those who served with him as well as to the new soldiers fighting in his regiment, he is a hero too. We are proud of him.

Today is not just another day out of work. It’s not a great day for shopping or grilling or beaching it. First, show some respect for the men and women who gave their lives to ensure those freedoms for you. Then, throw an extra hot dog on the grill and enjoy it.

You are blessed beyond measure to be an American and to be free.

18 thoughts on “Freedom Isn’t Free: A Veteran’s Story

  1. I could hardly read through my tears! You captured the heart of our lives, devoted to God, family and country. What a special granddaughter you are! Love you, Grandmama and GrandDad.

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  2. How lovely, Rebecca. Tell your grandparents, I say thanks. I guess we are near in age. My men relatives were mostly excused from service because of farming, but we were certainly taught in the love and thankfulness to God for the freedoms of our country and the price it cost many to keep those freedoms.

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  3. I understand exactly what u mean. my grandfather was a ww2 vet and some of my favorite memeories of him were sitting in the floor listening to him talk about the way things used to be. So many have forgotten about the sacrefices that have been made so that we can live in the comfort we are accustom.

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  4. What stands out time about the title is it made me wonder that freedom comes with a cost,that is fighting for it or die trying.what I know about this post is no matter if it’s not a family member lost in a war,but thanks to that person we have freedom today.I believe the author feels an infinite respect and love for her grandfather,Not only she feels a close relationship to him but she sees him as a hero.I can add to this blog that no matter how many times war separates so many families around the country,but they remain close to us in our hearts.Let’s remember those that have gave their lives for this country.Let’s appreciate each and every moment we have and thank god for our troops.I’m glad to have discussed what I read about this blog to my grandfather,but unfortunately he passed away before I could even met him.I’m sure we would love to read this inspirational and sentimental blog.

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  5. As a young man living in the United States I appreciate the things that the veterans do for the citizens in this great country. Reading this story is inspiring and also sad, because it would have been nice if I have a grandfather who can share his wisdom and bravery to me about what he did for this great country we live in. People should appreciate the grandparent’s and fathers they have because every child doesn’t have that in there life.

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  6. Wow ! that very wonderful stories about your family history . I had uncles who did service army in 1970’s while Vietnam time but they don’t talk about it and i have to do respect their will . Same to my father in law who had service army in Vietnam time . When I join Ancestry.com and plan to make famiy tree for my girls but I find out that my husband had grandfather did service army while WW1 and his great grandfather who service army too . I do proud of them …for our country!

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    • I am glad you enjoyed the article and that it resonated with you about honoring family history and all. We have to be thankful for those that are willing to serve and protect our freedoms.

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  7. Your dad is a brave man because he did not only joined the military, but fought in the war. My grandfather was also in a few wars. I never got a chance to meet him but my dad would tell me stories about him. My grandfather was in the Korean war. He served as an aircraft mechanic and later moved up to Senior Master Sargent. We should always thank the men and women who served us.

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  8. I wish more people honored our veterans the way they should. Days that should be spent honoring them or those serving are often just an occasion to miss work and have fun with friends. But what people forget to realize is if it weren’t for our veterans, we wouldn’t have such wonderful opportunities to enjoy. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  9. Send my thanks to your family. Many people forget about the sacrifices made for our freedom. We get these rights at a price of someones sacrifices and many do not appreciate this. This was a great story .

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