Nick Mavrick served on the OCN Board of Directors. The OCN Board consists of volunteers, who are also donors, and are passionate about giving back to the Orthodox Church. We welcome other volunteers to join us.
Back in a time made simple by the birth of a nation, where the courageous proclaimed, ‘There is a price we will not pay. There is a point beyond which they must not advance,’ our founders risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor for our freedom.
The path to understanding, if you’ll let a guide direct you, only has at heart one’s knowing the price of freedom. Your journey begins on the hill overlooking Washington DC, at the Marine Corps War Memorial where etched into a nation’s conscience is a place where ‘Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue.’
Follow your guide to the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery where heroes enshrined under tombstones hymn in unison – ‘We thank whatever gods may be for our unconquerable souls.’
Beneath the rugged trees, where humble markers recite our heroes’ names, each in his narrow cell forever laid, a spirit urges you to force your heart to serve your turn long after they are gone.
And if you are curious enough to continue your journey, walk over the Memorial Bridge to the temple where in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is forever enshrined; calling you to honor brave men and women, living and dead. And to never forget what they did to nobly advance freedom, so that this nation, under God, shall not perish from the earth.
And if you are solemn enough to continue to find the Patriot within you, walk around the tidal basin ringed with Cherry Trees, to hear Thomas Jefferson swear upon the altar of God: eternal hostility, against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
Before you leave the monuments of Washington DC, march to heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King – ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’
Pull in your ladder road behind you, and wonder whether Washington DC’s monuments of peace and strength have any relevancy to the time in which we live now. Or whether peace and strength are two cultures that have simply faded into each other – both being lost. One must not look further than the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to strengthen your resolve.
Join arms, march 288 miles, and arrive at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City to remember and honor the thousands of innocent men, women, and children who were murdered by terrorists.
Entranced by the 9/11 Memorial, one may contemplate a nation’s epitaph:
“Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
He gained from Heaven (it was all he wished) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God”.
But the nation’s destiny is not yet complete. Nor have you arrived at your destination.
Across the twin reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood, you are invited to take the outstretched hand of Saint Nicholas, the protector of children.
He guides you to a humble church destroyed on 9/11 and rebuilt – The St. Nicholas National Shrine.
Enter the St. Nicholas National Shrine, light a candle, kneel, close your eyes. And join Lincoln and Mother Theresa in prayer.
We pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Keep the Faith and remember:
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
St. Nicholas hands you a broken drinking goblet, like the Grail, under a spell so the wrong ones cannot find it. Drink and be whole again beyond confusion. This is your freedom, your country, and your call to duty. Freedom is Not Free.
‘Freedom is Not Free’ was heavily inspired by numerous sources with many quotes sourced verbatim including: Robert Frost – The Directive (the inspiration & structure for this piece); President Reagan’s ‘A Time for Choosing’, William Ernest Henley – Invictus, Thomas Gray – Elegy Written in a Country Courtyard, the US Marine Corps Memorial, Arlington National Cemetary, the Lincoln Memorial, President Abraham Lincoln – The Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 9/11 Memorial, World War II Memorial, St. Nicholas National Shrine, President Lincoln’s Letter to Mrs. Bixby, Mother Theresa – ‘Do It Anyway’, The Holy Bible – Luke 12:48 and 1 Corinthians 4:12.
Nick T. Mavrick is Chairman of the Orthodox Christian Network and attended the Ground Blessing of St. Nicholas National Shrine in New York City on October 2014. He is a volunteer with veterans causes including the 2014 Family Program at the Warrior Games & Invictus Games, and Fisher House Foundation.
By Nick Mavrick
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