Charles Burdick

Charles Burdick

As a veteran and proud of my service, I speak not for myself.

My time in the military did not disable me in any way and that makes me a very fortunate man. I did not see combat while serving in the United States Navy during the Korean war. I was in the Navy when the war started and as a volunteer, was ready to serve as a combatant. I was fortunate this didn’t happen, although I didn’t think so at the time.

After being discharged and working on the river for 42 years, I was very fortunate to carry over into retirement good medical benefits. All veterans are not that fortunate — at no fault of their own. This great country of ours has never stopped being great, and we should take care of our veterans. How can we spend billions of dollars to help foreign countries when we are not doing a very good job of taking care of our veterans and their medical needs?

I will not totally judge anything on what I’ve seen and read in the news, but I must put a lot of thought into the reports about the pitfalls and neglect seen in recent reports of our veterans' care. The Veterans Home in Quincy has been in the limelight about several deaths, and not long ago the Marion VA hospital came under fire just to mention a couple.

The cost of care for our veterans should never enter into the picture. We are a country of wealth and great freedoms, thanks to our founding fathers and veterans who have kept it that way.

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; But if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her."

The above quote to me really brings home the need for us to take care of our veterans. This quote from a past president depicts the feelings of most veterans.

They went to war, those young men of this great country. They went to places unheard of. Some would die on foreign soil. They went because they were Americans, and their country needed them. Love of God and country had taught them that. In the history of our country, several times our freedoms have been threatened and always the call to arms has been answered by our young. Never let them escape from our memories, those who died and those that were maimed in combat so that we might live as free people.

How could we ever forget our veterans in need?

Veterans are responsible and are the reason we can go to the church of our choice, and why we can vote for who we like. We can also openly show our dislike or disagreement of government actions and the people who support such actions and much more. This is what is the exact definition of unlimited freedoms.

Nowhere in the world do people have the opportunities to live and prosper as we Americans can. We are people of great envy throughout the world. We have always answered humanitarian calls.

And veterans help to make this all possible.

The monetary cost of freedom is expensive and the preservation of it is even more costly with death and injury. Our living veterans have seen the latter. Let us always be prepared to show our great humanitarian concern for our veterans. We owe it all to them. Forget the cost.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best, “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them.”

Charles F. Burdick is a lifelong resident of Grand Tower. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy and then went on to a 42-year Maritime career including 35 years as Master Pilot. He has been retired for 23 years and enjoys local history and writing poetry.

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