We just celebrated Memorial Day and we have Independence Day coming up soon, days on which we are reminded again and again how freedom isn't free.
Yet, unlike the Greatest Generation, we tend to miss part of this message.
It refers not only to battlefield costs, but also to our daily lives. Freedom is a continual ongoing effort, not just a concept to be spoken about on these two days and Veterans Day. And in our daily lives, as on the battlefield, freedom isn't free.
The Greatest Generation showed us how to fight for our freedom not just in winning WWII but in continuing the fight at home every day, with every paycheck or business profit.
They were true patriots. They talked and walked patriotism. They paid income taxes at 90 percent for the top bracket not just for the war years but until 1964, when it was dropped to 70 percent.
Johnny Carson is an example of a person who survived World War II and who later became very wealthy. He was a proud 90 per-center for years before finally acting on his accountant's advice to form a corporation to reduce his personal taxes.
Today we have two good examples of top bracket persons, one taking a patriotic stand and the other an unpatriotic stand. Warren Buffett is for higher taxes on people like himself, while Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin is not only against higher taxes on himself, he became a resident of Singapore to escape all U.S. income taxes.
Saverin's move is a bit out of the ordinary, but his mindset seems widespread these days. Our wealthiest no longer follow the example of the Greatest Generation. When it comes to taxes, they are more with Saverin than with Buffett.
Wealth may not have trickled down from the wealthy to the rest of us, but the Saverin mindset has. Many of us now put our own individual wealth ahead of country, with little or no thought about contributing to the common good.
And with no draft, almost all of us let others do our fighting on the battlefield.
We don't seem to be listening to the "freedom isn't free" speeches. We are letting one percent of us fight our wars, recycling them again and again, and we are letting the predominant mindset of the wealthiest one percent become our ideology.
We are acting as though freedom is free, or at least very cheap.
Where has our patriotism gone?
(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily News)