And it is so true. Just think of the lives that have been lost and the military personnel who have been taken prisoner or injured throughout our country’s history.
This year, however, the saying takes on another meaning.
Military families and their advocates are battling an Obama administration proposal to limit troops’ pay raises to 1 percent in 2014, the lowest increase in a half-century.
It comes at a time when American soldiers are still be fighting in Afghanistan. Many are returning home in coffins, and some of those who escaped death are missing limbs and suffering from mental and physical ailments.
"We're sending the wrong message to the ones who have worked the hardest in our country by the multiple deployments and family separations," said Michael Hayden, deputy director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America.
We agree. While the fat cats in Washington working in Congress and the Pentagon continue to enjoy the good life, we are trying to save money by not giving our soldiers their just rewards.
Pentagon records show that a 1 percent increase would be the lowest since 1963, when there was no raise followed by a double-digit increase later that year. The second-lowest raise since then was in 2011 at 1.4 percent.
Military pay increases by law are now linked with private sector growth as reflected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Cost Index, an assessment that would call for a 1.8 percent increase in 2014, which advocates are seeking.
But the Pentagon is asking Congress to limit it to 1 percent and save $540 million.
We all know there are a lot of ways the federal government can cut costs and save money, but targeting salaries and benefits for our troops and civilian personnel should not be one of them.
One alternative way to trim the federal budget came to light recently and is about all the money the U.S. government spends on nothing.
It is one of the oddest spending habits in Washington: This year, the government will spend at least $890,000 on service fees for bank accounts that are empty. At last count, Uncle Sam has 13,712 such accounts with a zero balance.
They are supposed to be closed. But nobody has done the paperwork yet.
So, even as the sequester budget cuts have idled workers and frustrated travelers, the government is required to pay $65 per account, per year to keep them on the books.
In this time of austerity, the accounts are a reminder of something that makes austerity hard: expensive habits, built into the bureaucracy in times of plenty.
Last year, the Government Accountability Office found that all of that “nothing” was costing about $2.1 million a year.
Freedom isn’t free, and we must pay fair wages to our men and women who are keeping us free.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.