I believe that freedom comes with a price.

Samantha - Naples, Florida
Entered on May 15, 2008

I believe in freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of speech and freedom for women. But I mostly believe that freedom comes with a price.

My father is an American soldier in the National Guard and that came with a price. On Sept. 21st (3 days before my 17th birthday), I watched my father get on a plane that took him to Iraq and that would change our lives forever. I thought maybe I would see him in a year or so, or even worse, I would never see him again. I was crushed. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I didn’t want him to go. I didn’t want to have to worry all the time. I didn’t want to see him come back in a body bag.

The nights were long, I stayed up wondering, is he dead or alive. The thoughts raced through my mind at all times. It put a huge amount of stress on me, in school, with friends, and with family. But the worst thing was waiting for the three or four month delayed phones calls that I would pray to get and the long overdue emails that I would wait for what seemed like forever to receive.

When my father got back from Iraq, he was a different person. A person who didn’t sleep, was on edge constantly, didn’t take things for granted, had flash backs, breathing problems, and never felt normal. My grandfather was a three-war veteran. He also left a family behind and went through the same experiences that my dad was going through. My grandfather also came back a changed man. The day he got back from Vietnam he was taking three pills a day, and no one ever knew why. But 20 years later he died a slow and painful death from Agent Orange and mustard gas that filled his whole body up with cancer.

I believe war may be right or wrong, but my father and many other soldiers are the ones putting their lives on the line and their families are suffering too. I know that I will never get back the year and a half when my dad was gone, even the same dad I once knew. My grandfather will never have the opportunity to watch my brother and I grow up. But I guess that’s the price you pay for freedom, this I believe.