By Pastor Gary Cortese, Chaplain – Byron Fire District

May is a busy month in our country. National Day of Prayer and Mother’s Day lead the events this month. After all, where would any of us be without the loving prayers of our moms?

There are other important events you can learn about on the Internet such as ceremonies and activities to remember our Nation’s law enforcement community, which includes (by the 1962 Presidential Proclamation) National Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15th. Also, in May we honor the dedicated service provided by America’s EMS through National EMS Week and we observe National Military Appreciation Month which includes VE Day on the 8th, Spouse Appreciation Day on the 10th, Armed Forces Day on the 18th, and the grand finale, Memorial Day at the end of the month.

It seems appropriate to remind you that freedom isn’t free. Maintaining the American Dream, safeguarding peace abroad and within our own borders, saving and protecting lives and property from sea to shining sea continues to come at a terrible cost.

We live in a world that is neither safe nor peace-filled. Life can be very difficult and unfair. Bullies have always taken what they’ve wanted, the weak have always been preyed upon by the strong, and evil will continue to run rampant if left unchecked. But interestingly enough, Albert Einstein made this observation: “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Hmm, that needs to hang out there for a minute…

I think it’s also important to note something that John Quincy Adams said to us: “Posterity – you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”

One way for us to make good use of freedom is to never be guilty of what Albert Einstein warned – to do nothing in the face of evil.

What can the average citizen do? Well, first of all, it’s important to remember that evil exists in other forms. An effective way to destroy any organization, family or even a country is from within by , lack of vision or purpose, complacency, low morale or self esteem, defiance, disrespect and general negativity. These are all forms of evil.

Also, it’s average citizens who make up these United States of America. Every last one of us defines America. So, what we do every day matters. From the products we choose to the organizations we support, it matters. I understand there are economic factors to consider but I wonder if the Founding Fathers of our nation would display an American Flag made in another country?

Obeying the laws of our land matters, too. What kind of example are we setting for future generations when we disregard the authorities? Whether we realize it or not we are passing down attitudes, perspectives and values – good and bad.

Let’s make good use of our freedom by not taking it for granted, by valuing it, protecting it and showing appreciation for everyone in uniform.