Faithfully yours - Freedom is never free


By Neil Strohschein

Neepawa Banner & Press

I still remember where I was standing when my dad and I had this conversation.

I had just come into the yard after spending a cold October Saturday cultivating stubble in preparation for spring planting. In those days we had one tractor—a 930 Case (the six-speed, hand-clutch type). It had no cab. We had an old HeatHouser (you have to be my age to know what that was) that kept my lower half warm; but the rest of me was chilled to the bone—this despite the fact that I had put on five layers of heavy clothing, hoping they would keep me warm.

Across the road from the field in which I was working, I could see our neighbour. His tractor had a heated cab and he was sitting there in his shirt sleeves, well protected from the elements.

I asked my dad why we couldn’t get a tractor with a cab like the neighbours had. My dad’s reply was simple: “He is a third generation farmer. His grandfather and father worked hard, braving the elements like you did today, to earn and save enough money so that they could get a tractor like that. One day we will be able to afford nicer equipment. But for now, we have to do the best we can with what we have.” I’ve never forgotten those words.

They came to mind again this past week as I was preparing to write this column. This weekend, we will celebrate the 151st anniversary of the founding of our country. There will be the usual celebrations, the community gatherings, the fireworks and the speeches—all of which will note how great this country is and will talk about the rights and privileges that we enjoy as Canadians.

While we appreciate and enjoy these freedoms, we need to remember that they were not just handed to us. Every one of the rights and privileges we have exists because someone lead a campaign to secure it. And they continue to exist because somewhere in this country, every hour of every day, someone is leading the fight to protect and preserve the rights we have and ensure that they are understood, respected and applied to all people equally.

And when asked to do so, we have extended that fight to regions beyond our borders. We sent troops to Europe (twice) and Korea to assist our allies who were locked in fights for their lives. We have sent peace keepers to places around the world—brave soldiers who have put their lives on the line to keep warring factions from exterminating each other; and in recent years, we have given our support to those who are fighting in the war against terror.

Every wounded soldier, every funeral procession along the Highway of Heroes and every head stone that marks the final resting place of a Canadian who lead the crusade for human rights or worked in some way to ensure that all Canadians could achieve their God-given potential is a testimony to the fact that freedom is never free.

The rights we enjoy in this country are ours because someone invested time, talent, treasure and, in some cases, gave their lives to secure them.

It is up to us to preserve these freedoms. We can begin by teaching our children to love, accept and forgive others as God has loved, accepted and forgiven them; and show them how to be at peace within themselves and live in peace with others. That is our task. May we faithfully fulfill it.