Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom Is Not Free is a moving poem written by Kelly Strong. The year was 1981 and Kelly was a senior in high school. He was also a cadet in the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC).

Kelly’s father had served two tours of duty as a Marine in Vietman. This was inspiration to the young Kelly who wrote the following poem in his father’s honor.

Kelly currently serves at the US Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Alabama as a Coast Guard pilot.


I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young soldier saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?

How many Pilots’ planes shot down?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, Freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, Freedom is not free!!

©Copyright 1981 by Kelly Strong

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