Remember those who gave their lives

  • Published
  • By Rapid City, S.D. Journal
  • Bismarck
As we look ahead to a new year we inevitably think about the one that just passed. There's good and bad in those reflections and always hope and plans for a better year ahead.

What we must not forget when we look at our lives is that nothing we enjoy is possible without liberty and freedom. It allows us to dream, achieve and certainly to disagree, something that has been part of the American culture since a brave group of revolutionaries decided they had enough of Britain's heavy-handedness and risked their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.

Since the Founding Fathers declared this nation's independence on July 4, 1776, millions of Americans have served in the military and hundreds of thousands have died fighting in wars all over the world to preserve our freedom of speech and to worship and bear arms.

Almost everyone has someone in their family history who has made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, a quality we cherish more than any other.

Today, the battle continues in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan where just 13 days ago an airman from Ellsworth Air Force in South Dakota joined the long and esteemed list of men and women who died on the battlefield in the defense of our liberty and to help preserve our safety.

Staff Sgt. Peter Taub, who worked for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, was only 30 when a suicide bomber took his life and the lives of five other members of the military on Dec. 21 near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

He was a father, husband, son and brother. He left behind a 3-year-old daughter and his wife was three months pregnant - unimaginable grief for his family as they look back at 2015 and wonder what 2016 will bring.

As we sit today and enjoy our families and count our blessings, we need to remember that 9,800 U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan while a sizable contingent from Ellsworth are serving overseas and playing a significant role in the global war on terror, now the longest running war in U.S. history.

Today, freedom is not preserved in the halls of Congress or the state Legislature. It is not guaranteed through the election process either, especially in an era of declining voter turnout as too many of us seem more than willing to forgo the privilege of voting and participating in democracy that some claim is under siege by powerful special interests.

Freedom was won on the battlefield and it is preserved on the battlefield. We can never forget soldiers like Peter Taub and the thousands of others in the military who risk their lives so we can enjoy ours.