Freedom is not free

Published 4:53 pm Saturday, October 24, 2015


The death of an Army veteran in Iraq, the first American soldier to die in combat against the Islamic State in Iraq, is an all-too-sobering tragedy.

Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler was killed on Thursday as troops raided a compound near Kirkuk. The operation freed about 70 Iraqi prisoners.

The nation hails him as a hero, but his passing hits more close to home than one might think. Wheeler was stationed at Fort Bragg, just a little more than two hours away.

In light of his passing, one should be reminded that the conflict in the Middle East is still an everyday reality. Although the news coverage has died down compared to past years, dangers await America’s military all over the globe. Beaufort County may not have its own military base, but there are many residents here who have a connection to someone in the military, whether it’s a parent, child, aunt/uncle, cousin or friend.

Even the people who do not know someone in the military have a connection — these sailors, airmen, Marines and soldiers are the reason for America’s freedom and the reason why civilians don’t have to go into combat themselves.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan of the 2000s may be coming to a close, but the war with ISIS is still a threat.

Master Sgt. Wheeler did not die in vain, and because of his death, one should treasure the moments with friends or family in the military who have been lucky enough to survive their time of service.

More importantly, whether it’s war or peacetime, all Americans should remember the sacrifices made by those in the military each and every day.

Everyone should hold his or her soldier (sailor, airman or Marine) tight tonight. War is brutal and does not discriminate based on wealth, family, gender or race. Each day is a gift.