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The phrase “Freedom Isn’t Free” has become almost exclusively used in patriotic references to war and the sacrifice veterans have made in their service to the country.

The phrase is usually accompanied by images of the U.S. flag, soldiers with guns, or images of gravestones covering the rolling hills at Arlington cemetery. If you do an image search for the phrase Freedom Isn’t Free, you’ll find many examples of such images.

A variation of the phrase, often seen on bumper stickers is, “Freedom isn’t free. Thank a veteran.”

The clear message is that freedom can only be achieved through war and death – and that all wars are fought to bring about freedom.

Well, this just isn’t true.

Freedom can be achieved through other means. Diplomacy, cooperation, and building positive international relationships of trust are means of establishing freedom. Creating economies of abundance and societies of equality establishes freedom. War is not the only way to achieve freedom.

The view that all wars are fought to advance freedom just isn’t accurate. Some wars are fought to give corporate interests access to oil and other natural resources. Some wars are the result of ideological differences. Some wars are an act of genocide. Many wars undermine freedom. Some wars are intended to create and maintain destabilization in certain regions where there is an economic benefit to do so. The industry of war, is perpetuated for profits, not for freedom.

An addiction to war is bondage, not freedom. It results in a hemorrhaging economy and poverty and dependence on multibillion-dollar loans from other countries. It’s what causes the decline and fall of entire countries.

Instead, we should have posters of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. that proclaim: “Freedom Isn’t Free. Thank a Peace Activist.”

It’s true that freedom isn’t free. It takes a lot of work, but war and death certainly aren’t necessary for freedom.

We need to thank our veterans, for all the ways they serve. There are many types of sacrifice other than dying on the battlefield. Many of our veterans make the sacrifice of being away from loved ones even during times of peace. That’s a sacrifice felt by their family and loved ones.

As the U.S. Army advertisements regularly remind us, there are 150 different career paths a soldier can take that don’t involve war or harming others. There are entire divisions of the armed forces dedicated to humanitarian works.[1]

If you want to thank a veteran, thank them for the humanitarian works they do. That honors them more. Thank them for the sustainability efforts the Army is engaged in that reduce our dependence on foreign oil.[2] Thank them for building health clinics and schools in areas ravaged by poverty and natural disasters.[3] Thank them for humanitarian aid that is given to areas in need.[4]

To be inspired by the humanitarian works done by the armed services, read: “Building a More Effective Military Defense for Greater National and Global Security Through Humanitarian Relief and Sustainability.”

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Footnotes

1-4. The statements footnoted above are based on the article “Building a More Effective Military Defense for Greater National and Global Security Through Humanitarian Relief and Sustainability.”

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