Freedom Is Not Free

July 21, 2022

Four images of memorials in Washington, D.C.

Written by: Felipe Nino, Caminos al Futuro 2022

As someone who’s interested in joining the military, it’s especially breathtaking to see memorials dedicated to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. During our time in Washington, D.C., we saw the World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and even the Marine Corps War Memorial. Seeing the Marine Corps was somewhat of a coincidence. We were on our way to the African American History Museum when our Lyft driver made a wrong turn and we ended up in Arlington; and on our right, four metal Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima with a marker declaring, “Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue.”

Over the last three weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of engaging with multiple service members. One of them was Gil Cisneros, founder of the Cisneros Institute, veteran, and current Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Another speaker, Jeyben Castro, served in the Navy like Gil Cisneros. On our private tour of the Pentagon, we had the honor of talking to some of the soldiers working in Mr. Cisneros’ office.

Talking to the Major and Colonel of Mr. Cisneros’ staff was the highlight of my trip to the Pentagon. The Major shared her experience in the Army and the opportunities she took advantage of, and the Colonel shared her advice for earning a ROTC scholarship. A common experience echoed by every veteran is the idea that your fellow soldiers or sailors will be there to support you every step of the way and when things get tough. Being around these servicemen and women has inspired me to serve my country and the memorials have given me the perspective on what it truly means to serve your country.

Felipe Nino is a Caminos al Futuro 2022 scholar. Felipe’s views are his own and not necessarily reflective of the Cisneros Institute.