Community Commentary Life, Liberty and Leadership

Thankful to those who paid the price for our freedom

When life moves it’s important to pay attention. 

The spirit of the cosmos was telling me something about liberty this year when my best friend from high school John and his son Nick came to visit me. John’s dad Mr. Peckham had been a pilot in the Navy and John had followed suit.

After graduating from Bates in Maine John joined the Navy and got stationed in San Diego as a pilot flying P3 planes out of Coronado. His younger brother Chris joined him shortly after also as a P3 pilot and John married his high school sweetheart Michelle. I’d come down and visit them after I moved to San Francisco.

Nick wanted to see the movie “Act of Valor” about the Navy SEALs. John thought it’d be great to see the movie in San Diego where so many SEALs are based. In the movie the actors are real Navy SEALs and I encourage anyone who has not seen it to put it on your Netflix list. The movie really hits home the sacrifice our military personnel make to protect our liberty.

Shortly after John left my parents came into town and I found myself at the National Cemetery at Fort Rosecrans. Walking amongst the graves of fallen heroes, with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, was humbling. My parents’ generation so values the sacrifices made. I wonder if my generation does. So many gave so much that we might enjoy the freedoms we have.

My parents wanted to visit my brother Hank’s best friend from high school who happens to live in the South bay and who became a Navy SEAL. Not knowing the protocol I’ll call this person “Sid” to protect his information. My brother Hank and Sid had joined the Navy after high school. A day after visiting Rosecrans we drove to Sid’s house and it turns out Sid continues to train elite forces in skydiving. Sid took us through his training facility and showed us the various protocols and timeline to train forces. It was inspiring. The level of physical fitness and commitment to duty was astonishing.

We returned to Sid’s house where he had a man-cave set up in his garage with mounted photos of various places he has served. I was surprised to see Sid next to a P3. It turns out Sid’s first job in the Navy was as a crewman on the P3, the same type of plane John flew.

Later that week I ran into local Cardiff-by-the-Sea author Eric Blehm. Eric is well known and has written books on the disappearance of a fire ranger in the Sierra’s and also a book about Afghanistan. I stopped to say hello and Eric gave me a copy of his latest book “Fearless.” The book is about Navy SEAL Adam Brown. It’s a terrific read and is a story of love, hope, God, family, country, valor and redemption. With summer here you might want to include “Fearless” on your summer reading list. You’ll be glad you did.

That night after enjoying a barbecue with friends and thanking those who had fallen, I saw Eric being interviewed about hero Adam Brown on the Mike Huckabee show. I wondered if Adam had trained with Sid, or if he had flown in the P3? I felt grateful to Adam, Sid and John and the men who protect our freedoms.

Sometimes when life moves it’s important to pay attention. Liberty has a price and I am thankful for the people who pay it.