The “Cost of Freedom” written in tribute to three young men who all served their country during WWII and Korea in the Alabama National Guard. Brothers who believed in protecting home and country; this is their beginning story.
A special thanks to my son Chuck in his service to his country in the US Air Force.
The Cost of Freedom
Standing in a sea of white as a warm Alabama breeze touched their bronzed faces three young men rode home in an old wagon through fields of cotton unaware that their youth would one day be forgotten. There was a time when they were all babies crawling at their mothers feet waiting patiently for warm sweet milk and tea cakes luxuries in their world, a poor man’s’ treat.
Their mother insisted they go to school and discover their own dreams; she vowed at their birth that her children would not break their backs or sell their souls working as poor farmers in the cotton fields planting, hoeing and picking the south’s white gold. Eighteen, nineteen and twenty years old, they had never known anything but working the red southern soil day after day sacrificing their mothers’ dream for very little pay.
Threadbare overalls shirtless and shoeless they stopped at the dirt road leading to the farm they called home, knowing that this way of life was quickly to end their decisions saddened their father broke their mothers’ heart leaving it so crushed that it would never mend. They reached a nearby creek at setting sun sipped on moonshine, laughed and had one last day of fun then left for home. It was no more than a shack but supper of fried chicken and cornbread always a feast for kings, then they crawled into cornhusk beds it was a hard life but a life where they knew that they belonged.
Then one fall day it all changed as proud Americans that wore their pride like armor; there was no question they would answer the call, not only for them but also for us all. It was early morning when their father stood quietly drawing on his pipe under an old oak tree, thinking of the warmth of the next spring while their mother sat in her rocking chair afraid of what the future would bring. One by one, they walk out the door childish faces, broad smiles, shinny shoes, starched uniforms. Three young men proudly walked down the old dirt road that day no one knew when or if they would ever return; but these young men knew it was to defend freedom an gift blessed with the day they were born. Mother and father held each other as they slowly walked into their home and closed the door while their three young sons walked away straight and tall ready to fight a war in a land they did not know on a faraway shore.
The window of their house proudly displayed three gold stars the days gradually turned into years their mothers’ heart had stopped beating, death had finally stopped her tears. Their father grew old as he walked fallow land with his life consumed by his many fears. Then one day as he stood beneath the old oak tree, drawing in the smoke from his pipe, while long ago thoughts begin to drift back on his life. He wondered where the time had gone; but knowing that their mother at last is happy that her young sons were finally coming home.
He stared down the road as three shadowy figures grew closer he barely recognize them, he could not even remember how long it had been. Their youth was gone their smiles were drawn the war returned his sons now three broken and scarred old men.
One would think the story of these three brothers would end; yet even as broken and scarred old men they answered the call to serve time and time again.
Thank you Uncle Author, Buddy and Franklin Vest and the Alabama National Guard