2008 Memorial Day Poster #1. Created by Virginia Reyes of the Air Force News Agency. US Air Force Photo by Vance Janes. Air Force Link does not provide printed posters but a PDF file of this poster is available for local printing. Requests can be made to art@afnews.af.mil. Please specify the title and number

I sat at my desk dumbfounded. Mr. Coker, my math teacher admonished me again. “Think, Mr. Gould. Think.” Problem was, no one had ever taught me how to think and I had never sought to learn.

That moment of embarrassment would prove invaluable for it set me on a course to learn how to think. Perhaps not like Edison or Einstein or Hawking, but as myself and the experiences I would have would instruct me.

During my time of exploration of thought (which has never ended), I found I knew little about freedom as well. Here’s what I’ve learned about freedom.

Most people in a free country think very little about freedom. They focus on that which they believe or allow to rob them of freedom, never realizing they have freely given rule over their lives to the very things they feel enslave them. It is their freedom to choose that has, with few exceptions, provided the shackles they so desperately wish they could remove.

And if you find yourself quickly dismissing this notion with the justification of those with real limitations, those who have handicaps or other physical or mental limitations that restrict their freedom, I urge you caution. The weakest form of argument is from the extreme.

“You have no idea what I’m facing” you may say. And you’d be right. Each of us has limitations to overcome, problems to solve, and challenges to face. And to each of us, they are as massive as the next. But we have the freedom to face them as we choose.

Men and women give their freedom and lives to protect what they believe to be worth more than anything. They protect freedom for themselves, their families, their country, and you and me.  How do we repay the debt?

This Memorial Day many will say they have nothing to give worthy of the sacrifice of those who died in battle beyond, “Thank you.” Respectfully, they’re wrong.

Each of us has the duty, obligation, and responsibility to utilize our freedom to the greatest extent we desire. We must use the gift to honor the sacrifice.

Some will say they are happy just as they are. They’re free to be so long as they aren’t limiting the freedom of others by exercising their own. Some will say happiness is in the journey. They’re free to get moving. Some will say they are limited by circumstances. They’re free to change them.

And some will say life’s not fair. Was it fair that someone fought and died so you could have the freedom to think life isn’t fair? Life’s not fair, get over it and exercise the freedom you have to choose a better life. Even a little freedom is better than none and in our country, you get as much freedom as you make your mind up to.