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2017 NJ Chamber Gala

 An essay by Clark Quenzler
6th grader from the North Hanover Township Schools

Clark Quenzler

The cost of freedom is expensive. So very, very, expensive. Hundreds of thousands of Americans gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country just for our freedom, and it should not be forgotten. “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at any cost.” –Arthur Ashe.

These men and women who gave their lives protecting our freedom is a debt to us that can never be repaid.

The cost of freedom is seeing an empty plate at a dinner table for months, years, or never again. The cost of freedom are soldiers returning with PTSD and depression. The cost of freedom are the graves decorated with poppies and flags; with the names of fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers who will never be seen again. The cost of freedom are the echoing promises of the soldiers who say they would return, but never will. “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell. We remember the fallen soldiers in our hearts who sacrificed themselves for our rights, liberty, and freedom on Memorial Day.

Imagine a boy who just found out his father died. He couldn’t process it at first, but when he did, he was heartbroken. He cried for days on end, and when he returned to school, he couldn’t pay attention to anything. He attached a note on a balloon, sending it up into the heavens and begging, pleading for his father to return. Now imagine this happening to thousands of people across America. This is the price of freedom.

Because of all the men and women fighting for our freedom for over 200 years, our country has remained a free country despite all the struggles it faces. “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” –Harry Truman. For all this loss, war, and bravery, our country has strived. This is the price of freedom.

 An essay by Ryleigh Geibel
5th grader from North Hanover Township Schools 

Ryleigh Geibel

Today, a mother, a father, a son, a daughter hug their loved ones before they deploy. That’s the cost of freedom.

Today, a child weeps for her father or mother who can’t attend her special occasions or can’t give her a kiss good night. That’s the cost of freedom.

Today, a family gathers for the holidays while a seat remains unfilled. The empty seat reminds them of the void. That’s the cost of freedom.

Today, a family is glued to the television praying that their loved one is safe. That’s the cost of freedom.

Today, uniformed military soldiers carry a flag covered casket and pass the the flag to family members as they say goodbye. That’s the cost of freedom.

The average person reaps the benefits of freedom each and every day without ever thinking about the sacrifices being made in thousands of homes each day. How do we honor these sacrifices? How do we make sure that the military know that their sacrifices are not going unnoticed? We honor them every opportunity we get by embracing their families in our communities, being grateful for the time that they work towards keeping our freedom, and also thanking soldiers every chance we get.

To those who wear the uniform each day, we thank you for the freedom we have to dream big and live freely. Because of all you give, there are many opportunities we can chase in this great land. This country was built on the backs of men and women like you, and we will continue to hold that near and dear to our hearts. There is no place like America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

There is no place better to live than America because our heroes are courageous, brave, and they are patriotic. We are able to rest easy and live our lives the way we choose because of these brave patriots. Our country has endless possibilities, and our military families and soldiers of all branches are what makes that possible.

Today, we thank you for your service.

Today, we honor you for sacrifices you make.

Today, we believe we are the best country because of you.

Today, the citizens of America know we are free to live out our dreams.

Today, on Memorial Day especially, we remember and thank our military for paying the cost for our freedom.

Thank you.