FREEDOM ISN'T FREE
The following is a letter from a Vietnam Soldier, written before he left his home should he be killed on his tour. Army Spec 4 Joe Sintoni left for Vietnam in January 1968 and was stationed in the Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border. As each day passed, more and more of his buddies that he arrived with were being killed. March 27, 1968, 19 days after Joe became the senior man in his unit, he too was killed. The following letter is from the book, “Shrapnel In The Heart” by Laura Palmer, about the letters and remembrances from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC.
Every American needs to read this letter and understand the words that Joe Sintoni wrote. We especially need to have our children read this and our politicians need to read this over and over until they understand why they were elected to their position in OUR government of the people, by the people and for the people.
The way in which Army Spec 4 Joe Sintoni describes Patriotism, FREEDOM, the American Spirit and Freedom is NOT Free in his letter needs to be thoroughly understood by ALL Americans because it is something that only a small handful presently live by!!!!
Here is Army Spec 4 Joe Sintoni’s letter to the woman he loved:
This is by far the most difficult letter I shall ever write. What makes it so difficult is that you’ll be reading it in the unhappy event of my death. You’ve already learned of my death; I hope the news was broken to you gently. God, Angie, I didn’t want to die. I had so much to live for. You were my main reason for living. You’re a jewel, a treasure, a woman whose attributes are sought by every man.
You were to be my wife. I thank God for giving me those few happy years with you. Our future was uncertain, but I did have a lot of confidence. No, I didn’t want to die, but death was part of my job.
Please don’t hate the war because it has taken me. I’m glad and proud that America has found me equal to the task of defending it.
Vietnam isn’t a far off country in a remote corner of the world. It is Sagamore, Brooklyn, Honolulu, or any other part of the world where there are Americans.
Vietnam is a test of the American spirit. I hope I have helped in a little way to pass the test.
The press, the television screen, the magazines are filled with the images of young men burning their draft cards to demonstrate their courage. Their rejection is of the ancient law that a male fights to protect his own people and his own land.
Does it take courage to flaunt the authorities and burn a draft card? Ask the men at Dak To, Con Tien, or Hill 875, they’ll tell you how much courage it takes.
Most people never think of their Freedom. They never think much about breathing either, or blood circulating, except when these functions are checked by a doctor. Freedom, like breathing and circulating blood, is part of our being. Why must people take their Freedom for granted? Why can’t they support the men who are trying to protect their lifeblood, Freedom?
Patriotism is more than fighting or dying for ones country. It is participating in its development, its progress and its governmental processes. It is sharing the never fully paid price of the Freedom which was bequeathed to us who enjoy it today. Not to squander, not to exploit, but to preserve and enhance for those who will follow after us.
Just as a man will stand by his family be it right or wrong, so will the patriot stand where Stephen Decatur stood when he offered the toast, “Our country, in her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong.”
We must do the job that God set down for us. It’s up to every American to fight for the Freedom we hold so dear. We must instruct the young in the ways of these great United States. We mustn’t let them take these Freedoms for granted.
I want you to go on and live a full, rich, productive life. I want you to share your love with someone. You may meet another man and bring up a family. Please bring up your children to be proud Americans. Don’t worry about me, honey. God must have a special place for soldiers.
I’ve died as I’ve always hoped, protecting what I hold so dear to my heart. We will meet again in the future. We will. I’ll be waiting for that day.
I’ll be watching down over you Angie, and if it’s possible to help you in some way, I will.
Feel some relief with the knowledge that you filled my short life with more happiness than most men know in a lifetime.
The inevitable, well, the last one: I love you with all my heart and my love for you will survive into eternity.
Freedom Isn’t Free
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young soldier saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many Pilots’ planes shot down?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No — Freedom isn’t free
I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard at the
bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington…..
No — Freedom isn’t free
…Cadet Major Kelly Strong Air Force Junior ROTC