The Gift of Freedom

The weather during the recent Memorial Day weekend was spectacular in Simi Valley. Even in the middle of the day, the heat was tolerable, and a lovely breeze caressed the trees. As soon as the sun began to set, the temperature dropped quickly, and the winds quieted down. Sitting on the patio enjoying dinner and visiting with family and friends was very comfortable, though I had to add a sweatshirt at about 9:30 in the evening.

Late in the morning of Memorial Day, my wife, Linda, and I decided to hike up Rocky Peak. A large number of other folks apparently had the same idea. They were all of good spirit, and almost everyone greeted us pleasantly as we passed on the trail. Those of you who have ascended Rocky Peak trail know that it is a rather steep climb in places, but you are rewarded with a marvelous view of Simi Valley and, at a certain point, a panoramic view of the San Fernando Valley.

A number of times over the weekend, announcements were aired on television and radio to remember the men and women who have given their lives to provide and protect our freedom. As I looked over the San Fernando Valley and reveled in the opportunity to be outside and to hike up to that place, it struck me that it was a privilege not to be taken for granted. There are too many countries in the world where it’s much too dangerous to take a walk outside.

It also occurred to me that, at that very moment, other Americans were living and working in great danger because they chose to serve their country so the million-plus residents of Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley could hike in the mountains on a holiday weekend. The simple pleasures we enjoy every day are, in fact, incredible gifts provided to us at great cost. Life, itself, is an amazing gift.

by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk

June 7, 2007