The Cost of Freedom

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST, RLP®

I remember the time when Veteran’s Day began for me with a ride to the cemetery.  That ride was usually provided by my Father’s Mother.  We were going to the grave site of her brother who was killed in WWII.  For me, that set in stone the feeling of what it means to risk your life and serve your country. It was real, and even though I never met this man, it felt very close to home for me. Between that annual pilgrimage and marching with the Cub Scouts in the Memorial Day paraded in Mt. Vernon, NY, I became eternally grateful to anyone who has served.

It’s hard to believe that Veterans Day isn’t widely observed with business ceasing and incenting everyone, if only for a moment, to pay tribute to all who have served in the armed forces.  The cost of Freedom is huge.  The biggest cost is born by our armed forces and their families.  We have dedicated citizens who put their lives and careers on the line and on hold to protect what we have built over the past 250 years.  The families of our service men and women pay a price as large as their loved ones serving.  Single parenting, worrisome nights and the unknown all compound on the families anxiously awaiting the return of their loved ones. In addition to those directly involved, we all pay in terms of taxes, safety precautions like we see at airports and global aid to foreign countries involved in their own conflicts.

I wasn’t lucky enough to serve.  In fact, I was the last year for the issuance of draft cards.  I don’t remember my exact number, but it was somewhere in the middle of the pack, 180-ish, with Vietnam in our rear view mirror for over two years and no immediate need to expand our forces. But I do recall the family sacrifice as my uncles were deployed in the Vietnam era and wondering at ten years old if I’d ever see them again.

It was actually my mother’s and wife’s side of the family where service to our nation was a way of being.  Joan’s Dad, Bob served in WWII with boots on the ground in Okinawa and other areas where gunfire was regular part of your day. My Uncle Carmine served in Korea. My grandfather Jack served for the Navy during WWII. His son’s, my uncles, John and Ray were both in the Navy.  My Uncle John actually had the full experience of being stationed in Vietnam, outside of Da Nang while his brother Ray sailed on a ship that has since been mothballed and recently intentionally sunk off the coast of Florida to become a recreational reef.

Thank you to all who have served. Veterans Day may stir up unpleasant memories for many. But please remember brave veterans, that your sacrifice is unintentionally celebrated by all of us each and every day.