Freedom Isn't Free
I watched the flag pass by one day
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young marine saluted it.
And then, he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mother's tears?
How many pilot's planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldier's graves?
No, freedom is not free.
I heard the sound of taps one night
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play,
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times,
That taps had meant "amen"
When a flag had covered a coffin,
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers and sons, and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard,
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves at Arlington,
No, freedom is not free.
- ROTC Cadet, Major Kelly Strong,
Homestead Senior High School
The Diary of Roy O.
Freedom is one of life's most precious gifts. Millions of people
like Roy Perley, fought and died for the freedom that we should all cherish,
protect, and enjoy. Here is Roy's story of how he served us, in
his own words:
Friday, April 26, 1918 - Rochester, NY
Told to report at City Hall at 9:30 Saturday morning.
Saturday, April 27, 1918
Reported at City Hall and was informed that I was to report at Rochester
Armory on East Main at 4:00 that afternoon Sunday.
Sunday, April 28, 1918
Reported at the armory and got my sweater and two pair of woolen sox from
the Red Cross and told to report at the City Annex Monday morning at 5:45
Monday, April 29, 1918
Got up at 5:30 a.m. and arrived at the City Annex late. Left Rochester
at 7:00 a.m. on Erie R.R. Transferred to the Lehigh at Sythe arrived
at Camp Dix, NJ at 12 p.m. After roll call went before doctors then
went for supper then got our blankets for a ____________ and went to bed
at 4:15 a.m.
Note: Our thanks to Richard House and his family for sharing the material
that made the Roy O. Perley story possible, and our thanks to Jan Kowalczyk
for transcribing Roy's Diary.
Tuesday, April 30, 1918
Up at 6:00 a.m. but didn't get breakfast or dinner had a little drill
after noon and I had a little headache. Eat supper at 6:30 p.m.
went to bed at 8:00 p.m. wrote one letter.
Wednesday, May 1, 1918
Up at 6:00 a.m. drilling in the forenoon but being ½ holiday laid
around until 5:45 then ans. Roll call and waited for supper.
Sunday, May 26
Went on guard taking charge of post 3 guarding no. 1 and 2 store room
going on at 8 and one prisoner got away. Relieved at 10, four hrs.
off going on again at 2 and off at 4.
Monday, May 27
Morning, no more guard duty for rest of day, only taking prisoners to
latrine or meals.
May 29, 1918
Went to 303rd eng. for examination and was marked for domestic service.
June 2, 1918
Left camp early Sunday morning for Brown's Mills and had a feed of strawberries
on the road, also we had lunch at B.M. which cost us 200. 2 sandwiches
and four drinks 2 ginger ales and 2 milks 100 each. Am sending 2
cards from B.M. one to Grane and one to Sis.
General Orders for Guarding
1. To take charge of this post and all government property in view.
2. To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert and
observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.
3. To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.
4. To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than
5. To quit my post only when properly relieved.
6. To receive, obey, and pass on the sentinel who relieves me all orders
from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and officers and non-commissioned
officers of the guard only.
7. To talk to no one except in the line of duty.
8. In case of fire or disorder to give the alarm.
9. To allow no one to commit a nuisance on or near my post.
10. In any case not covered by instructions to call the corporal of the
11. To salute all officers and all colors and standards not cased.
12. To be especially watchful at night and during the time for challenging,
to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass
without proper authority.
June 4, 1918
6 p.m. - names of those to be transferred, called off, I being among them.
I turned in my gun belt, bayonet, and scabbard.
Kept in barracks all day and left for train at 7:15. Left Camp Dix
at 1:15 a.m.
June 6, 1918
Nearly all women crossing guards on R.R. We come through Baltimore,
Wash D.C., and Richmond. We were given coffee and buns by the Red
Cross at Wash D.C. and at Richmond, coffee and cigarettes the ride was
a fine one no guards to bother us and a hearty welcome all along the way.
Arrived at Richmond about 1:35 and changed crews. Came through Petersburg
but were not allowed to leave the train, any, at camp about 4:00.
Marched to barracks and washed up for supper after supper were given beds
and went back to barracks. And went for examination after that were
given rifles we cleaned rifles and to bed about 12 o'clock.
June 7, 1918
Up at 5:30 and mess at 5:45. Took rifles and went on parade grounds
for inspection along with a company of old timers. Afternoon were
taken to rifle range and instructed in the different parts of the rifle.
Drilled in marching and some of the manual.
9 - Sunday
Up at 7 o'clock and drilling some of the sick, lame, and lazy were transferred.
10 - Monday
We went to the range in the morning and staid all day having lunch at
the range which was cheese and ham sandwiches with iced tea. After
supper we went for gas drill and went through the gas house. I shot
20 times gun shooting low, making 38 at 100 yds/3 bulls eyes, 200 yds/4
bulls eyes, 300 yds/2 bulls eyes. We were also moved from one barracks
to another, we got to bed at 11 o'clock and were told we would be up at
1:30 to go to the trenches.
11 - Tuesday
Up at 1:30 and in the trenches about 3 o'clock. I am acting as hand
grenader. 2:20 afternoon and no relief. Off at 3 morning of
12. We all carry gas masks.
15 - Saturday
I issued more clothing. I was up at four getting mine. 29
Sent my bag home, cost me $2.25 p. post.
Thursday, June 20, 1918
Left Camp Lee, Va. in the afternoon and marched to City Point and took
boat to Newport News, Va. arriving on the morning of 21, Fri.
June 22, 1918
Went aboard the SS Susquehanna in forenoon. Had berth 3202 2nd deck
and 3rd hatch. ASOS mess room.
Getting ready to leave.
Left port in morning - fine day. Standing watch.
A few more transports joined us guarding by squads.
On guard 2 hrs.
June 26, 1918 - Wed.
Just off guard 2:30 p.m. Weather muggy and looks some like
rain. Took bath after coming off guard.
27 - Thursday
Same old round guard at 12:30 and ten hrs. off - took bath. All
of the boys took a salt water bath.
28 - Fri.
We have been on ship one wk. This forenoon. Changing cloths from
overalls to Ods getting ready to stand guard watch. A strong wind
from head portside. After coming off guard at 2:30 p.m. I went into
mess hall and seen the movies. After movies came out on deck and
heard the band.
29 June - Sat.
Boat railing some going to have rifle inspection this afternoon.
June 30 - Sunday
Went on guard at 12:30 and attended services in afternoon. Stormy.
July 1 - Monday
Wind blowing hard from head, sea rough, wrote a letter to Geane in afternoon,
also took in moving pictures.
July 2, 1918
Still stormy and cloudy.
July 3, 1918
12:30 midnight hard wind blowing from head and raining by spells.
July 4, 1918
Took bath and washed underwear after coming off guard. It gets daylight
about 3 o'clock. Expect to strike port tomorrow afternoon.
Writing letter to Geane
Writing to Sis
Writing to Ed Magson
2 letters Magson & Marie Johnson
Wrote letter to Marie Johnson
Aug. 11, 1918
Coin. moved to front lines, I stand guard for new co. 48 hrs.
Morning shrapnel fell all around us.
Aug. 13, 1918
Flock of German plans and two Americans fighting at noon. Three
Germans downed, one machine dropped in pieces, aviator dropped, others
landed and captures. Staid at front line trenches until Aug. 22
- 3 others and myself are staying 72 hrs. as. Days are hot and nights
are cold. Signed payroll for July.
Aug. 28, 1918
Got my hair cut.
Clear day, the first in four days. I had my hair trimmed again.
Sept. 13, 1918
Left Pettonville and laid over in Moyen.
Oct. 25, 1918
So weak can hardly write. We landed in Belgium about the 22 and
it was sure a barren looking country. Where the Germans first used
gas only stumps of trees left, the ground all shell holes and full of
water. More like a swamp. The roads were made of crushed rock
and would give when the wagons and troops walked over similar to rubber
ice. We see all kinds of concrete dugouts, but mostly all blown
to pieces. We have been moving so fast haven't had time to eat.
I fell out three times on our last hike. I just came back from a
little town, but was unable to buy anything. Nothing there but Belgium
soldiers. Lord, hungry and all most barefooted.
Note: This was the
last time Roy's family heard anything about Roy until . . .
They received a Western Union Telegram at 7:00 p.m. on January 4, 1919
To Mrs. Pheobe Perley, RFD #1, Dodge Center, MN. . . Deeply regret to
inform you that it is officially reported that Private Roy O. Perley infantry
died of wounds received in action, November second.
Harris the Adgt General
A letter on YMCA stationary titled "On Active Service
with the American Expeditionary Force" dated July 14, 1918
Dear Father and Mother;
I will try and drop you a few lines to let you know I am feeling fine
but there is no place like the USA and I will sure be glad when I get
back again. We came across on one of Germany's ships and had fine
weather for crossing and have been moving ever since we landed so have
had a chance to try the slide door Vans and would rather ride in a side
door. About the cheapest thing I have run up against here it tobacco
and that is half price to soldiers but candy and every thing else is way
up in the air. Wooden shoes are a common sight here. The house
and barn are all in one so the winter doesn't bother the farmer any.
I take this country to be the same as Mont. We have cold nights
and I haven't seen any corn to amount to anything. They have a town
crier here to take the place of a newspaper. We are allowed wine
and light beer but the wine is not up to much and I haven't had any beer
yet. Well I will close and hope this finds you all OK I remain your
Private Roy O. Perley
1489 Inf. Co. F
Same YMCA stationary letterhead except written
in France, September 5, 1918
Dear Sis and All,
Your ever welcome letter of Aug. 10th received on Sept. 9 and will try
and scratch a few lines in ans. I have been looking for a letter
as letters for sometime and when they did come got four Mother and two
from Rochester, N.Y. We are sure having some swell days, but the
nights are sure cold and mostly fogy. All the crops around here
look fine and you ought to see the gardens no weeds they sure know how
to work but on a small scale. The women wash along beside the rivers
and use a scrub brush also a paddle and every one in a while they will
roll the clothes in a ball and pound them all cold water work. They
only want about 20 Franc for washing a shirt. We had a pay day last
week. I drew over 200 Franc. But all we can buy is tobacco and sometimes
cookies and cakes which cost a Franc for about twelve. The only
thing that is cheap over here is tobacco and Lucky strike for 7 cents
per pack 20 cigarettes and all other brands the same way about ½
price. It took about as long to come here as to go to England but
we didn't take a direct rout. After I have seen a few ruins and
saw one fall this morning. We have just came back from lines and
are having a little rest. Old Fritz is hanging around over head
the past few days. I guess he smells a mice. I have made an
allotment to you for $20. per Mo. So if you don't get it sometime
this Mo. Let me know. It starts from Aug. first so it might not
reach you until Oct. In one of my letters I asked Ernest to pay
my Moose dues for 6 mo. $5.00. I could send them from here but it
will cost me more and again it will reach Rochester quickly. From
there as I would half to go through the M.C.A. Loyal Order of Moose, Lodge
113, Rochester, N.Y. Well, I will close and hope to hear from you
soon. I remain your Bro
Pvt. Roy O. Perley
Co. F 148 Inf.
"In Flanders Field Where Poppies Blow" and where
Roy Perley was put to rest.
The Soldiers Field Veteran's Memorial was created to commemorate Veterans
from Southeast Minnesota who died serving our country and to honor all
who served our country to help keep us free. We remind future generations
that we must not only protect ourselves from outside forces who would
deny us our freedom, but we must understand that like the downfall of
the Roman Empire, our freedom can also be lost from within if we
allow our moral and ethical standards to decay. We can not tolerate
bigotry or corruption in any form. Those who say they have no influence
on our society have forgotten that we each control our own conduct, which
then becomes part of our country's weakness or strength.
We are all indebted to the millions of "Roy Perleys" who have paid
the ultimate price to keep us free. Regardless of our origin, as
American citizens, we all must be Americans - first and foremost.
With privilege comes responsibility and the need for absolute allegiance
to our country.