The price of freedom

The video above shows the mass reenlistement ceremony in the Al Faw Palace rotunda at Camp Victory, Baghdad. The troops chose to celebrate Independence Day in a way that gives expressive form to the price of freedom. According to the Army account, General Petraeus presided over the ceremony and led the airmen, Marines, sailors, and soldiers in their oath to defend their country against all enemies both foreign and domestic. “You and your comrades here have been described as America’s new greatest generation, and, in my view, you have more than earned that description,” Petraeus said. “It is the greatest of honors to soldier here with you.”

In his July 4 New York Post column Ralph Peters totes up “the price of freedom” in the story of Army Lt. Peter Burks and his legacy:

Second Lt. Peter Burks graduated from Texas A&M, then chose to join the US Army. Commissioned through Officer Candidate School and sent to Iraq as a combat platoon leader, he told his parents his goal was to bring his soldiers safely home. Quietly religious and dutiful, Burks was proud to serve.

On Nov. 14, 2007, as the lieutenant led his men back to their base at the end of a patrol in Baghdad, a massive Iranian-made bomb struck his vehicle. Two of his soldiers were wounded. Standing upright in a hatch to direct his unit, Burks was struck in the head by shrapnel and died.

His story was one of many, notched down as just one more casualty by the press. But the Burks family lives in Texas, a long way from DC (in more ways than just distance). Instead of blaming our government, they honored their son’s service even as they mourned him.

His relatives remembered how Lt. Burks kept asking them to send goodies for his troops – not all of whom had a strong family supporting them. In his honor, they set up the Peter Burks Unsung Heroes Fund, literally a mom-and-pop effort to support those who serve.

What did their homespun effort accomplish? Nothing that would impress prize-hunting journalists. But they shipped over three tons of snack food and recreational materials to their son’s comrades.

So many donations flooded in that the unit chaplain in Iraq set up “Burks Country Store.” Everything on the shelves is free for soldiers.

Peters bitterly comments that Lt. Burks “is one of those who fell so journalists would remain free to belittle his sacrifice.”

Via Dean Barnett’s July 4 required reading post for the Weekly Standard..

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