St. Louis is home to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetary. Jefferson Barracks is one of the National Cemetary Administrations oldest interment sites. Overlooking the Mississippi River, the post was opened in 1826 and was the U.S. Army's first permanent base west of the river.
Today more than 240,000 veterans and their family members are laid to rest at Jefferson Barracks Cemetary. Soldiers from all wars are buried here. The cemetery is beautiful, and as you drive past, its sheer size is breathtaking.
At the same time, it is sobering to view in person because it is a striking visualization of the actual price of freedom.
Neat, perfect rows of matching headstones bring to the surface thoughts of countless lives sacrificed and still selflessly devoted to ensuring the preservation of our present and future constitutional rights.
Soldiers who gave their lives to pursue freedoms for people they've never met and preserve those same liberties for future Americans not even born.
The number of soldiers who sacrificed their lives to allow Americans' freedoms unintentionally but also commonly taken for granted is inconceivable.
The resolve, dedication, and commitment a soldier delivers selflessly with their life to fellow Americans can only be described as unequivocally humbling. The appreciation of the sacrifice made as it goes unrecognized by many, including yourself, brings sadness.
The grief of the 3,255 unknown dead soldiers buried without their identities and the families who waited years for them to come home is stifling. The countless medals and accomplishments many never hear about. Medals and achievements from Americans who put the constitutional rights of others before their own life and family.
Soldiers who risked their lives facing horrific circumstances and terrifying obstacles and who, in an instant and without hesitation, made altruistic decisions rooted in bravery to save the lives of their fellow soldiers.
It is incredibly humbling to realize the actual cost of freedom. The intense feeling of pride and respect is overwhelming and puts into perspective the bigger picture at play in the world.
The everyday hustle and bustle of life and the daily navigation through life's obstacles become irrelevant when surrounded by men, women, and families who all gave their lives so you could live yours without constitutional restrictions.
Please take some time this Memorial Day to reflect. Be grateful to all the honorable soldiers who paved the way for us with their lives and asked for nothing in return, and don't forget to thank a soldier for our freedom. Without them, it would be a much different country.