Some pay daily for the high cost of freedom
I’m Just Sayin’
by SHEILA SMITH
Everyone is anticipating the Fourth of July. It’s natural. We all love holidays – days off, travel, cookouts and gatherings of family and friends.
The patriotic holidays always remind us that we are free because of a cost so many have paid. We thank veterans and active service men and women for their sacrifices and remember those who gave their lives.
A few years ago I realized that there is also a dark side, a very heartbreaking side, to the patriotic holidays. There are a number of special people in my life, veterans, who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the patriotic holidays always unearth the memories and feelings they have tried to bury. I see their moods change. I see the storm of emotions in their eyes. I have learned to anticipate that a PTSD episode may take place on or around those holidays; it’s a fact of life for some.
Maybe I never considered it, maybe I never noticed, but a post on a social networking site opened my eyes to how much anxiety many of our veterans are facing this week.
I follow a page that is dedicated to supporting veterans with PTSD as well as educating the public on the disorder. As I was reading over the page this week, someone wrote, “Is everyone prepared for the fireworks for Fourth of July? What are you doing to keep yourself calm?”
And in that moment I realized while so many of us will be gazing at the sky in amazement of the colors and designs, some veterans will be hearing and seeing something completely different: the explosive sounds and blinding lights of war.
Some of the veterans on the page said they were nervous about impending fireworks; others said they already experienced problems due to recent shows; still, some expressed thanks that they would be in areas that either did not allow fireworks or had no celebrations planned whatsoever.
One veteran also wrote, “I wish I could enjoy fireworks like I did when I was a kid.”
Even our men and women who come home from battle have lost so many things forever. There is a peace of mind and type of innocence they will never see again. It’s hard to imagine that celebrating our nation’s independence could bring such hard emotions to the forefront but it happens.
As you celebrate the Fourth of July, you will probably remember we, as Americans, celebrate because we are free. That freedom comes at a price that some paid with their lives, and others will pay for the rest of their lives because of the physical, emotional and mental effects of war.
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