Stories of Minnesota Veterans

One way to honor our veterans and better understand them is to hear their stories. Here, we share a few of the many stories from our Minnesota veterans. Stories include the Diary of Roy O. Perley who kept a diary of his service in World War I, an article written about Sergeant John W. Ahern of the 453nd Bomb Group who was killed in action during World War II, and letters to and from Harold Thomas Tierney, Radio Technician 3rd Class, who went missing in action during World War II.

Freedom Isn’t Free

I watched the flag pass by one day
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young marine saluted it.
And then, he stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He’d stand out in any crowd.

I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mother’s tears?

How many pilot’s planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldier’s graves?
No, freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of taps one night
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play,
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times,
That taps had meant “amen”
When a flag had covered a coffin,
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers and sons, and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard,
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves at Arlington,
No, freedom is not free.

– ROTC Cadet, Major Kelly Strong, Homestead Senior High School