Freedom isn’t Free: The value of Discomfort

I have been in a reflective mood of late for a large number of reasons. One reason is the upcoming commencement of my 66th trip around the sun, better known as my 65th birthday. Another factor in this reflection is the flood of memories I have from the Memorial Days of my childhood and how they have impacted me personally as well as my feelings toward my father. More to come on that today.

June 4, 1959, was a big day in my life because it was the first day of my life. I was born in the sleepy community of Lincoln, IL, a place situated almost halfway between Chicago and St. Louis. When June 4, 2024 arrives in about 11 days that will end my 65th year on this planet, a good run and one I hope I get to continue for a few more laps. When I think about what has happened, what I have learned, and all that I have been privileged to do in those 65 years I am immensely thankful to be in a place where I typically on have “1st world problems” as my sons have taught me about. I rarely have to go to bed hungry, cold, hot, without shelter, or in fear for my safety. This is in stark contrast to many others across the face of our Earth. I often wonder why my creator chose to place me here in this time. I would like to think I have made some progress on what He intended me to do. I am sure He will say more about that at some future date.

My greater focus on today’s post is the whole purpose of the Memorial Day weekend and how my dad’s experience has impacted me in my life. My dad was also born in Lincoln but on August 15, 1923. he grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s and then enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1943. Uncle Sam then prepared my dad for the trip of a lifetime to the South Pacific and to an island that forever changed how my dad saw life. He was part of the USMC 3rd Division and they were in the second wave that hit the beach on that volcanic hellhole called Iwo Jima. He remarked when he was living his last days that he never expected to come back to the United States alive from that place. Fortunately, he did, and as a result, I sit here today.

One thing my dad never forgot was the impact his colleagues made on the world through their paying the ultimate price. Dad (Robert Louis “Dewey” Ryan) was in charge of placing flags on the graves of veterans each May in anticipation of Memorial Day. As a young boy, I had the opportunity to help him do this for many years. It never really made me think much then, but it often causes me to pause and be thankful for those who selflessly gave up their own lives in order for all of us to live in freedom today.

Our country lives in a state where most of us don’t encounter much discomfort. In fact, most of us abhor discomfort. Heck, we even complain when we don’t get fries with our burgers. Most people on this earth would run for the chance to have a fraction of what we take for granted and the continued movement of immigrants toward this country is just another indication of that.

My suggestion to you on this Memorial Day weekend is threefold:

  1. If you know a Veteran, thank him/her for their service to our country
  2. If you have a chance, pause and offer a word of thanks (perhaps a prayer) for the opportunity to live in such a great time and place as this
  3. Think of a way that you can provide comfort to someone else, even if it provides discomfort to you. I guarantee that your discomfort will only make you stronger in the long run

I thank God and his son, Jesus Christ, for the blessings they have bestowed upon me to allow me to safely express this thought a this time. I will never take that for granted.

Have a great weekend.