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A great poem by Unites States Coast Guard Commander Kelly Strong. This poem is important to Kelly because he wrote it as a high school senior (AFJROTC cadet) at Homestead High, Homestead, FL. in 1981. It is a tribute to his father, a career marine who served two tours in Vietnam. Kelly is now an active duty Coast Guard pilot living in Mobile and serving at the US Coast Guard Aviation Training Center.

I originally received this in an email with no author mentioned. Thanks to the efforts of Suzanne M Pratt, who identified the author, I was able to add that information, and get his permission to post it here.

I watched the flag pass by one day,

It fluttered in the breeze.

A young Marine 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 died at sea

How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?

No, freedom isn't 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 isn't free.

By Kelly Strong, 1981

Enjoy Your Freedom & God Bless Our Troops




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Last Updated: October 11, 2004


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