Those of us lucky enough to live in the U.S. have more freedoms than we know.
So said Lt. Col. Tom Lippert (retired) who spent two tours of duty with the U.S. Army in Iraq during his 22-year service.
The Chardon resident spoke briefly during the Newbury Memorial Day Program Monday morning about the fear and indignities Iraq citizens experience because they lack the freedoms American citizens often take for granted.
Being in a foreign country for an extended time gave him the opportunity to make friends among the Iraqis, he said, and their everyday experiences opened his eyes.
“The stories they shared with me made me appreciate the freedom we have in America,” he told the audience at the Newbury School auditorium. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are only two of a long list, he said.
In Iraq, a common brown paper bag by the side of the road could be a bomb, causing drivers to swerve to the far side of the highway, Lippert said.
A man driving anywhere in Iraq can be pulled over by armed soldiers and ordered to prove his identity, the colonel said. Since the soldiers could be from either party at war against each other, Sunni or Shiite, the driver had better be able to tell who is pulling him over and produce the correct identification. Lippert said everyone carries two IDs, one showing he is a Sunni and the other showing he is a Shiite.
If the driver guesses wrong, he is yanked from his vehicle, beaten and robbed, he said.
“These are the freedoms we have in this country we don’t even know we have,” Lippert said, and those freedoms are the reason he always speaks in public when asked.
He thanked parents for bringing their children out to enjoy the Memorial Day celebration so they will understand how important it is to remember why 1.3 million Americans have given their lives to ensure our freedoms and our citizens are kept safe because of soldiers who have died to keep them that way.
“The freedoms we have in the United State are unlike freedoms in any other part of the world,” Lippert said. He emphasized that the significance of Memorial Day is to remember respectfully those who gave their lives while in the service.
Lippert is a much-decorated former pilot with the 111st Air Born Division of the United States Army.
More than 150 Newbury residents attended the event in the auditorium and many more lined Auburn Road, reserving places in the shade early in the morning on a day when temperatures were expected to be in the 90s.
The parade along Auburn Road, with Dean Eppley as parade marshal, led to Newbury Center Cemetery. The American Legion Post 663, of which Lippert is a member, raised the colors there. Services were held earlier in the morning at South Newbury Cemetery and Munn Cemetery. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1068 members posted the colors at Munn Cemetery.
An hour after the 21-gun salute, folks lingered, catching up with friends, or walked over to the American Legion post for lunch – not a paper bag by the side of the road anywhere.
Tue, May 29, 2012
by Ann Wishart