Seven in the morning your alarm sounds, waking you from your sound sleep. It takes a few seconds, but you are finally able to shut it off, unwilling to open your eyes. You know that any second, your mom is going to walk in and pull the blinds up, allowing the angry rays of the sun to beat down on you. Sighing to yourself, you slowly roll out of bed and begin your morning activities.
Thoughts start running through your head, mostly about the events that will happen through the day. You make a mental note to call your best friend, and to send Grandma a "Happy Birthday" card. You remember to collect your laundry like your mother asked you to do the night before. You become excited when you think about your sister waking up and screaming when she sees a fake spider beside her pillow. It runs through your mind that the new skate park will be opening soon, and that you need to get a ticket for it. You shower, dress, and begin the day's activities, never once thinking about our troops stationed in Iraq or the ones previously stationed in Vietnam, or any other place for that matter. You don't think about how lucky you are to live in a country that allows you to make your own decisions or the men who fought for that right.
You go to school that day, and learn about countries that are ruled by dictators, and how horrible it must be to live there. The teacher starts a new lesson on the different wars fought between countries around the world, yet the Iraq War never crosses your mind. You go days, sometimes weeks, without even thinking about it, let alone hearing about it. It's just not a subject you discuss with your friends. You don't know anyone in the Armed Forces, so why should you care that men and women are over seas risking their lives everyday? You have food, clothing, shelter, and any other accessory one might need to live comfortably. You don't see the point of this war, or why we need to be over there.
Your family just finished dinner when the phone begins to ring. You were hoping it was Mike telling you he got the tickets to the skate park. Your dad was laughing at something your sister said when he got up to answer the phone, and you watch as that smile quickly turns itself into a frown. Tears form in his eyes, and worry rushes through your entire body. What is going on? You hear your mother ask what was wrong, and become confused when your dad responds, "Steve's dead."
"How could Steve be dead?" you wonder to yourself. All he did was fly planes for the military. It was his job to transport soldiers to and from Iraq. How did he die? You are baffled. Steve was your dad's best friend, someone you had known since you were little, and all of the sudden he was gone?
"They shot his plane down," you hear your dad explain to no one in particular. You turn the television on later that night, still not fully taking in what had happened. You flip through the channels, and stop on a news station, with a headline that reads, "Forty seven dead today, and over three thousand all together, in the fight to keep liberty." You go to sleep that night, more aware now than ever before.
I believe that Americans, especially the younger ones, take for granted where they live and how lucky they are. They understand the United States is where you can be free, but what I don't think they understand is exactly how many wars - and how many deaths - this country had to go through, and continues to go through, to maintain that freedom. The younger generation was born into freedom and many of them had never lived through or witnessed their nation at war. They don't appreciate what so many have worked for, or that it all could be taken away in a heartbeat. Whether someone has served in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, world wars, Cold War, Vietnam or Iraq War, they need to be thanked for it everyday, and get the respect they deserve from the Americans that they fought to keep free.
In the words of Dick Cheney, "It's easy to take liberty for granted when you've never had it taken from you."
Tara Casner is a student reporter and columnist at Indian Valley High School.