We live in the greatest country in the world because men and women who have gone before us paid the ultimate price. Our FREEDOM wasn’t FREE. Today we take for granted the freedoms we are afforded by the men and women who currently serve to protect and sustain that freedom. Most of the time these men and women go unnoticed and do a thankless job 24/7 due to their deep love for this country. Before the Declaration of Independence was written, statements like the one below were the life-blood driving these brave men and women.

Our Military and those who serve in police, fire, and rescue departments, sacrifice so much by putting their lives on the line daily to ensure our freedoms. They protect us, keep us safe and often we don’t even know their names. There is one name that is very dear to my heart and that is my brother-in-law, David Scalf, who is a Retired US Navy Commander. He has sacrificed so much for the citizens of this great country, which he loves dearly.  We want to honor him and all the men and women, active and veterans of the military and the brave souls in our police, fire and rescue departments.

When they read these words from the Declaration of Independence, they understand their duty is to put their lives on the line in order to ensure every American has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

For me, this was brought into acute focus and realization when 7 sailors lost their lives protecting our freedoms while I slept safely at home. Just last month, the USS Fitzgerald, a Navy Destroyer patrolling the waters off the coast of Japan was struck by a merchant ship. That collision caused massive flooding and ended the life of 7 American sailors: Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby (19), Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass (25), Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh (25), Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez (26), Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Voctor Ganzar Sibayan (23), Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin (24), and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehan Jr. (37). These men paid the ultimate price for each of us to remain free.

In America we often forget that so many of our freedoms are not shared with people of other countries. The freedom to speak and have our own opinions. The freedom to eat, drink and play. The freedom to worship where and how we wish. The freedom to sing, dance, to be happy, mad or sad. We are free but this freedom is not free. It is costly and we owe these men and women honor and respect.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.

As we embark on a long weekend celebrating America’s Independence, please join me in pausing to give thanks to these brave men and women who serve us willingly and with great heart. We have been blessed not to be selfish but instead to be a blessing to those around us who might need a helping hand. Honor these men and women, who sacrificed for you, by not merely looking out for your own interests but by looking out for the interests of others as well. True joy and peace of mind is achieved by not what you have accumulated for yourself but by sacrificing for the good of others. Zig Ziglar said it best: “If you will just help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”

Ultimately,  I pray that God blesses the men and women, and their families, who serve each of us everyday. I pray for my brother-in-law and his family and I pray that you will help me honor these people this weekend and often by serving others in the capacity for which you can. God bless the USA.

– Dr. Pat