Deserving Your Freedom

MIAMI BEACH- NOVEMBER 12:  World War II vetera...Image by Getty Images via Daylife


I’ve been struggling all morning to write a meaningful Veteran’s Day message without it coming out sounding like a rant. Fortunately, I received this email from Allyn Cutts (marketing strategist at  that more eloquently says what I wanted to say, and I am passing it on to you.  

I just got an email with a wonderful story from my good friend and business partner Michael Angier, and I just had to pass it along. If it offends you, scroll to the bottom of this email and remove yourself from out list… Simple enough.

Here in the United States, on this eleventh day of the eleventh month, we honor those who serve and have served in the Armed Forces. They have given much, so that we are free to live the lives we choose.

I have lived and traveled all over the World, and I’m *extremely* proud to call the United States of America home.

Quick story, before the story…

Several years ago, I had been traveling a lot throughout Asia for five to six weeks at a time, and when I returned home I came back to the States through Newark airport as I had done many times… But this time was a little different.

I was coming through immigrations, or whatever that areas is called where they check your passport and all that… I was a bit tired, I’d been traveling for 23+ hours, and every time I go through immigrations I always think to myself, I hope I haven’t done anything wrong. You know the feeling… There are a lot guys walking around with guns and dogs.

Anyway, I get to the counter and the old guy behind the glass takes my passport, flips through it and can see I’ve been traveling a lot, and that I’ve been out of the country awhile, then…

He flips to a page, hits it with a stamp and looks up at me and utters these three words…

 “Welcome Home Son”
The moment he said that, I felt *so* proud, and I really didn’t know why…

See, I’ve never served in the military, so I can *only* imagine how those three words must feel to our returning men and women serving around world.

My father served during the Korean War, my uncle served in WWII, my grandfather served during WWI, and I grew up going to school with Air Force kids during the Vietnam era, back when we all wore MIA and POW bracelets in honor of those soldiers missing and fallen.

So on this Veterans Day, I want to say Thank You… to my father, my uncle, my grandfather, and to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in our military. Thank you for the freedom you have given all of us. I support you, and will never let you down.

If you appreciate the freedoms YOU have, thank a Veteran.

And now, for the story that Michael sent to me…

Back in September 2005, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock AK, did something memorable.

On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks from her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room, they discovered that there were no desks. “Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?”

She replied, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.”

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

“Maybe it’s our behavior.”

She told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

And so, they came and went: the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.

By early afternoon, television news crews had started gathering in Ms. Cothren’s classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came, and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day, no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.”

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.

Twenty-seven U.S. Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk.

The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand along the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place, those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, “You didn’t earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it’s up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don’t ever forget it.”

Please consider passing this along so others won’t forget that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned by our Veterans.

All the best,

Allyn Cutts

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2 thoughts on “Deserving Your Freedom

  1. George Blobe

    In the front of our business yesterday…..

    Let honor our veterans by the way we treat each other!

    I am not nor was my father a vet, we all came here from WWII Germany. I don’t think anyone in my family shed blood for this country. Yet I am deeply connected to those that did. When I see the graves of those 18 year old boys that never got the 46 years that I have enjoyed in this country, seeing my kids enjoy this country…my heart and tears flow with gratitude…..

    I can only hope that my gratitude and how I treat their families is a small measure of appreciation.

  2. Carole

    Thanks so much for your post George. My good friend’s family escaped Berlin. The people who have lived her all their lives have no idea how lucky they are.

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