Always remember that freedom is not free - a tribute to our servicemen and women

Real Estate Agent with Orlando Area Real Estate Services

iraq flag

So here we are on Memorial Day Weekend and we have service men and women in harms way once again.

These are special people. I would say they are wired differently to the rest of us, but the evidence just doesn't back that up. Take Flight 93 on nine eleven as a perfect example. Or the soldiers, sailors and airmen of World War II. It is in us all. We just need to find it.

The picture on the right is of my friend and national hero, Master Sergeant of Marines, William "Spanky" Gibson, who is the first ever member of any branch of our military who returned to a combat zone having had an above the knee amputation.

It is a picture of Spanky saluting a flag at Camp Fellujah in Iraq. He chose to honor me and that specific flag is hanging proudly on the wall of my home today.

Thank you Spanky. Not for the flag, but for what you have done for us all.

Last night I was talking to a client for about an hour. A huge part of that conversation was about her 87-year-old grandpa who served aboard the USS Arizona. He was on that ship the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. His brother is STILL aboard that ship as he perished there when the boat went down.

She told me that whenever they visit, her Grandpa walks onto the Memorial and Salutes and says to his brother: "I will always love you. I will never forget the sacrifice you made for all of our freedom." It gives me goosebumps just hearing about it. I believe that all Americans should visit the Arizona Memorial at least once in their lifetime. Until you have been there (I have twice), you simply cannot understand what I'm talking about. The picture below is of the USS Arizona sinking in 1941.

These people understand with every fiber of their being what defending freedom means. A freedom that so many of us take for granted. A freedom that simply wouldn't exist without the ultimate sacrifice these people make in our country's name. In our name.

Arizona sinkingThe following is an excerpt from "A Foxhole's View". Written by an ordinary soldier in the middle of World War Two.

The man who wrote it received

* 1 Silver Star
* 2 Bronze Stars
* offered Purple Heart, turned it down because he thought it was bad luck

The time: December, 1944 - a few days before The Battle of the Bulge. The place: The Hurtgen Forest

I had gone down about four houses when I saw, at the convergence of the "L", a German tank supported by a platoon of infantry. This was the counter-attack. We hadn't gotten any anti-tank guns into the town as yet. There were only two bazooka gunners with our attack...and where could they be?

Being caught out in the open all alone, I panicked. I tore through the back yard fences, trying to get to the others and warn them. If the tank reached the corner of the "L", we would be trapped.

But a heavy machine-gun squad had already set up and started firing. He was no match for the tank, but if he could scare or kill the supporting infantry, the tank would be more vulnerable.

It looked like a hopeless situation. The tank slammed an 88 into the **machine-gunner's legs, but in a super-human effort, he continued to fire at the tank and the infantry. The infantry finally retreated and the tank pulled off of the attack. The machine-gunner - Ralph Neppel -was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

As I ran along I passed an unmanned German tank. Had it been in action during our crossing of the field, it would have been devastating. I also noticed a row of craters, the largest I ever saw during the war. They must have come from our bombers. Although they had missed the houses, I thought how they must have rattled the windows! One of the houses would have easily fit into one of these huge craters.

About twenty minutes later the town had been captured and we had taken numerous prisoners. Company L, which had been in reserve, had taken almost as many casualties as we did because of tree-top bursts from the German artillery.

The rest of the day was spent in setting up mortars and defenses. That afternoon, one of our tanks was placed at the other end of town where the German tank had appeared earlier. A German tank somewhere off to the left spotted our tank as it parked. It opened fire and knocked out our tank before it could get off a shot.

That night, Johnson, from our platoon, lay on a table in the light of a flickering candle. He had taken a piece of shrapnel in the back. I had expected that to happen sooner or later because I had noticed his reflexes weren't too good. Johnson was doing a lot of moaning and groaning which indicated he was out of his head. We couldn't get him out or get a medic to him until morning. Lt. Benjamin lost patience with him and told him to shut up, but to no avail. That next evening we heard that Johnson had died. This made *Lt. Benjamin feel guilty for not knowing how badly Johnson was wounded. And a few days later, Lt Benjamin was killed in action.

We all know where we would be without our servicemen and women. I have a nephew who served in Afghanistan. We all know people who have fought for our freedom or are doing so right now. It is beyond my comprehension that with all the money currently being spent by the Administration, military spending cuts are the only serious cuts they are talking about. So on this weekend we must remember our service men and women. We must thank them and we must consciously know where we would be without them.

Every one of them gave something  -  some gave everything.

So do me a favor - if you are traveling through an airport or a port this weekend or you just see a man or woman in uniform in a restaurant. Please go and shake their hand and thank them for their service. And while you're at it, pick up their tab too.


(Copyright © 2009 By Simon L Conway All Rights Reserved.)

Simon Conway is the winner of the FIVE STAR Best in Client Satisfaction for Real Estate Agents in the Orlando area.

Please give me a call if you have questions about the Central Florida real estate market.  You can reach me on 407 876 8200.  Also visit my web site at or


Re-Blogged 3 times:

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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


A very well written post. Read it and really appreciated what you had to say and what yo said so well. Thanks

May 25, 2009 04:23 PM #13
Mark MacKenzie
Phoenix, AZ

This is very true, "Every one of them gave something  -  some gave everything."

It is amazing to me how selfless these men and women continue to be, God bless them and their families.

May 25, 2009 04:24 PM #14
NJ (Nori) Bosley
*TBD* - Madison-on-the-Lake, OH


I agree, everyone should see the Arizona Memorial at least once in their life as well as the Vietnam memorial in DC.  Been to both once. I too have a great uncle that is still ABOARD the USS Arizona, as he perished there when the boat went down. I never knew him (of course) but when I found his name there on the memorial, I felt so proud and yet sad at the same time. He was so very young and my Grandmas only brother, all I heard growing up was that he was a hero. He was then and is today, as I feel all our service men and women are.  Thank you for this post. AND MANY THANKS TO YOUR BUDDY "SPANKY", A TRUE AMERICAN HERO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 25, 2009 05:06 PM #15
Bettina Settles
Greenwood, IN
Your Indiana Connection

Wonderful tribute to the men and women of the armed fores. You are so right freedom is not free and we should not forget they volunteer for this job in the rest of the world there is a mandatory draft usually after the age of 17.


May 26, 2009 12:25 AM #16
Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC


Great post; I especially liked the man standing in the picture-very thought provoking.

May 26, 2009 02:35 AM #17
Frank McLawhorn
Frank Mclawhorn Realty .com - Hampton, VA
Bringing Families Home

I agree, everyone should see at least once in their life as well as the Vietnam memorial in DC.  Been once.  He was then and is today, as I feel all our service men and women are.  Thank you for this post.

May 26, 2009 03:06 AM #18
Simon Conway
Orlando Area Real Estate Services - Orlando, FL

Thank you for all the comments. In addition to the Wal in DC, make sure you stop by the new WWII Memorial as well.

May 26, 2009 03:16 AM #19
Mike Frazier
Carousel Realty of Dyer County - Dyersburg, TN
Northwest Tennessee Realtor


Thanks for sharing and honoring our "heros". We have so much to be thank-ful for:) Congrats on the feature!

May 26, 2009 06:41 AM #20
Scott Baker Coldwell Banker West Shell - Liberty Township, OH
Realtor Homes for Sale Cincinnati/Dayton Ohio

Simon, Thank you for the post. The excerpt was very matter of fact. It is a shame the number of stories just like that that are dying everyday. We know what went on, but then again we don't. Both of my Grandfathers served in WWII, neither would talk about it, ever. As they say War is Hell. Recognizing their(all soldiers) sacrifices is very important.

May 26, 2009 08:09 AM #21
Aaron Poling
Long & Foster - Martinsburg, WV
Working to get YOU the BEST Deal!

Great Post! I think its important for us to remember what our holidays are really about and give respect to those who serve.

May 26, 2009 08:12 AM #22
Terri Hattaway
Real Estate and Financial Services - Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Simon thank you on behalf of my veteran son, father, uncle, 2 Viet Nam vet cousins, and my WWII veteran late husband.  My husband told me a story of being on a supply ship somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and going into the galley in the pitch dark (no lights allowed on at night) to "steal" some coffee for himself and his buddies.  He heard a voice in the dark.  "Who's there?"  My husband responded.  It was his commanding officer.  "Scared son?" he asked.  My husband said , "Yessir." The officer whispered, "Me too, son.  Me too."

Who knows how many small moments like these have been left unshared?   These men and women deserve our respect and appreciation, and not just for a few holiday weekends each year.  Thanks for sharing.

May 26, 2009 05:33 PM #23
Mary Thomas BH,MB,HB, PV, Estates LA+
Remax Estates Properties - Los Angeles, CA
Mary C. Thomas Your Agent around the Globe

Simon. THis is a very special post. We must always remember those that risked their lives to keep this country safe and honor them. Thank you for helping us all to remember them

We should all pray for the safety of all our troops in Iraq and Afganistan and all around the world. THey are the brave Americans that keep this Country safe for all. God Bless our Troops!

May 27, 2009 04:13 AM #24
Alice Linahan
Voices Empower - Argyle, TX


Thank you for sharing this Great American's story with us and Thank you for being a Great American!!

May 27, 2009 04:11 PM #25
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

This is beautiful!
I don't think I ever heard Elvis in "better voice" than on this--it's a "chill-maker", even a "tear-dropper"!
How fitting for 2009 perhaps we need the reminder so... please don't delete before reading as I know you will really enjoy it!!  

Click here: A Tribute to our Flag 


Ginger of Southport

Jun 23, 2009 03:55 AM #26
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

Happy 4th of July......

The festivities have started.

There are bands playing on the we speak.  They are bands from all over.

Have you ever heard of the Embers?  They will be here for the fireworks on the 4th.

The park is set up with crafts from all over.  They folks are showing their finest.  You can get some really great buys in the park.

Wish you were here...come if you can.

Ginger of Southport

Jul 02, 2009 03:34 PM #27
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

The 4th of July is a big thing in our little town of Southport NC.  It is the place for the official parade for North Carolina.  But for everyone to enjoy.

Wish you were here.

Ginger of Southport

Jul 03, 2009 01:17 AM #28
Nogui Aramburo
Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS® - Raleigh, NC
Real Estate Professional in the Raleigh Area

Excellent Simon! Without the sacrifices of these brave men and women, our great experiment would not be possible! Happy 4th everyone! God Bless America!

Jul 04, 2009 01:51 PM #29
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

I met a young man this morning who was home on leave from Iraq.  He leaves tomorrow to go back and defend our Great United States of America.


God Bless him and Keep him safe.


Jul 06, 2009 02:53 PM #30
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

I like this site so much.  Do you mind if I re blogg it.?


Jul 26, 2009 10:46 AM #31
David L. Montgomery
David L. Montgomery

Only two men in my family did not serve -- my father and I.  My father was born in 1908 so he was too young for WWI and too old for WWII.  I was heading to college and my number was 320 (you who remember the draft know what I mean).  After that was the Saigon airlift.  One brother is still in the Air Force.  The other five are either retired or have passed on.

They talk about things I'll never understand...

Aug 02, 2009 03:59 AM #32
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