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7,000 crosses: The reason we are free today

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POSTED May 28, 2012 1:39 a.m.

The sound of freedom was loud and clear Sunday at Woodward Park.

You could hear it in the squealing of children as they let off energy in bounce houses.

The freedom to gather as some 20,000 people did throughout the day at Woodward Park is something we take for granted way too often. So is the freedom to worship as we chose, to speak out against the government, to vote, to travel pretty much when and where we wish, and a repertoire of other rights we don’t give a second though to exercising in 2012 in this land.

Those freedoms are not free.

They never have been and probably never will be.

Most of us don’t think about it because someone else is paying the price such as soldiers like Mark Forester, Charles O. Palmer II, and Michael Vega to name a few.

Each man and women represented by the 7,000 crosses that will stand at Woodard Park until 4 p.m. today answered the call when we came under attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Argue all you want about the course of the Global War on Terror but one thing is absolutely clear - we are not under attack on our soil today because of the vigilance of a volunteer military.

We forget way too easily in the age of Facebook, the Internet, and other social media the pundits celebrate for undermining tyranny that none of this would be happening without the sacrifices of men and women who risk their lives while we go about  our daily business complaining about the government or Twittering over the latest American Idol finale.

It was not the words of Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, John Adams and others that freed us from tyranny.

It was the blood and the lives of soldiers.

The revolution 236 years ago that upended the order of mankind where only the privileged had freedom and everyone else was subservient was born of ideas and realized with blood.

War is horrible. Ask any solider who has been in combat. Ask the families of those who did not return.

It is the soldier that stopped the Axis Powers intent on enslaving the world. It is the soldier who keeps others repulsed by America’s freedoms and liberties conferred on individuals and not institutions whether they are religions, royalty or otherwise in check.

Do not think for one second that anyone represented by those 7,000 crosses were lovers of war or violence.

They were lovers of freedom. They loved their families. They loved their country. And they loved life.

Mark Forester grew up in a small town in Alabama. He was about as typical of an American kid that you’re going to find. He loved sports. He loved hunting. He loved fishing. He loved his family. He loved the Lord. And he loved people.

And he had no fear of showing his love.

On Sept. 11, 2011 he was less than 60 miles away from the spot Sunday where the Traveling Tribute panel bearing his image was dedicated serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

That love took him into some areas of Oakland where few of us would dare tread.

And that love took him to Afghanistan.

It is the Mark Foresters that made it possible for the Mark Zuckerburgs to thrive.

We are who we are today because of freedoms that let us stand firmly grounded on the earth and shoot for the moon.

And as Marine pilot Lt. Col. Frank Latt shared, Forester in his own words controlled the space between the surface and the moon.

Although he was adding levity to a grave battle situation while serving as a combat controller Forester’s words are as true blue as you will ever get.

The American solider does indeed control our destiny.

There are 7,000 of them in the past 12 years who have paid the price so we can figuratively soar to the moon collectively as a nation and as individuals.

And for that we are forever indebted.

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.

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