The Price of Freedom
Kirk McGinty idolizes his war-hero father, who died in Vietnam. But when his teacher, Mr. Altman, tells him that the soldiers who fought in southeast Asia were killers, it shakes Kirk's faith to the core. Altman tells Kirk that the men who lost their lives in Vietnam died for nothing. Then Altman gives him a book, which details some of the atrocities that happened at the hands of U.S. soldiers. After reading the book, Kirk isn't sure he wants to participate in the unveiling of the Veterans' Monument at Odyssey's annual Memorial Day picnic, even though he and his mother, Joyce, worked very hard to make the monument a reality.
Joyce tries to comfort Kirk, but when he sleeps that night, Altman's words and the book's images invade his dreams. Kirk wakes up convinced that his father did, indeed, die for nothing.
Meanwhile, Whit visits Altman and questions the wisdom of his actions. Whit informs Altman of the fate of Kirk's father. Altman, in turn, bitterly reveals that he lost a brother in Vietnam.
Later, at the unveiling of the memorial, Kirk is subdued until his mother reads a portion of the last letter Kirk's father ever wrote to her. The letter reveals his sense of duty and the gratitude of the Vietnamese people, and how those things make paying the price of freedom worthwhile. Kirk is touched by his father's words and proudly cuts the ribbon, unveiling the memorial.
Then Altman shows up and apologizes to Kirk for damaging his image of his father. Kirk and Joyce take a closer look at the monument. Altman says he noticed his brother's name carved on the memorial and passes on veiled thanks to Whit, who is the only other person in town who knew about Altman's brother. Altman also says he noticed another name on the monument - Jerry Whittaker. Whit tells Altman that Jerry was his son. The two share a moment of silent pain, mourning their losses, and Altman better understands Memorial Day.
- Why is it important to remember those who have fought and died in wars?
- Should Christians fight in wars?
- Why or why not?
- What kind of freedom do you have as a citizen?
- What kind of freedom do you have in Jesus Christ?
Heard in episode
VERSION DIFFERENCE: [view] The broadcast version of this episode has a skit at the beginning that features Chris at an Odyssey vs. Connellsville baseball game. When the commercial break is over, during Chris's narration, no music plays, just like in the album version.
- NOTE TO PARENTS: like #352: “Memories of Jerry”, this episode deals with the Vietnam War, some opinions surrounding it and the grief of family members of fallen soldiers. This episode deals particularly with a boy growing up without his father in an environment hostile to his father's service. Parents may want to be with their kids for this episode to explain their beliefs regarding the war, and to talk about the issues brought up.
- The War Memorial is introduced in this episode. It appears in other subsequent episodes, including #175: “East Winds, Raining” and #326: “Gathering Thunder”.
- Adventures in Odyssey received a lot of positive response about this episode. Many veterans wrote in to tell them how the episode affected them and to thank AIO for remembering their sacrifice.
- This episode was not put in an album until 2 years after it aired. It is highly unusual for an episode to remain unreleased for so long.
- As of 07/2017 this episode is the most-aired at 28 times.
John Whittaker: Mr. Altman, here in Odyssey, we still take words like honor, and duty, and heroism very seriously. They still have a meaning here.
Joyce McGinty: <reading a letter from Kirk's father> I know that when all this is done, a lot of bad things will be said about what we were doing over here. Some of those things I'm sorry to say are true. That happens in war sometimes. I know that sounds like I'm trying to excuse the inexcusable, but I'm not. If the people who are against this war could just talk to some of the Vietnamese and hear the gratitude they express for helping them I think they'd begin to understand a little better. That's what makes the price of freedom worth paying. And if I ever have a son someday, that's something I wanna tell him.
Joyce McGinty: My husband, and all the other Americans who fought in Vietnam or any other war paid that price for us. And our children. And the people of those countries in which they fought. Let this monument serve to remind us and future generations of their sacrifice.