“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” sang Janis Joplin in the song “Me and Bobby McGee.”

But once freedom is lost there really is nothing left to lose because if it is lost, freedom is terribly difficult to reclaim. Freedom is not the natural state of humankind, otherwise everyone would be free. Oppression, dictatorship, the subjugation of women and religious intolerance seem to be the norm in all too many parts of the world.

Freedom has a price. Always has. One can see it at Arlington Cemetery and in separated families of those who fight to maintain it.

Some high school friends of mine tell me that in their schools in our area, many students remain seated and sometimes talk when the Pledge of Allegiance is said each morning. Do they not know their parents and grandparents went to war for freedom? I guess people tend to undervalue what they don’t pay for.

In Sunday’s Washington Post, the Northrop Grumman company paid for a full page ad. It showed a little boy hugging his dad -- who had just returned from war. The boy is clutching a small American flag. And there is this quote from John Adams: “You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”

So do I.

Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox News contributor.

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