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Letter: Remember the non-military who gave their lives for freedom

Many South Dakotans support the governor’s decision that freedom is so important that fewer than 2,000 lives lost was a small price to pay to keep that freedom for the other 800,000 South Dakotans.

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To the Editor:

On Memorial Day it is customary to remember our fallen soldiers who gave their lives for freedom, as well as our family and friends.

This year it is important to remember the others who gave their lives for freedom. South Dakota enjoyed freedom from masks and the freedom to gather in large groups, e.g., Sturgis. But freedom is not free: it costs lives but often we do not know the cost. South Dakota had 330 deaths per 100,000 population. Two places whose governors took more restrictive measures—Vermont and Puerto Rico one affluent and rural and the other crowded and poor— had, of course, fewer deaths; Vermont had 103 and Puerto Rico 133 (average 118 per 100,000). The difference applied to South Dakota’s 800,000 population meant 1,900 additional deaths. South Dakota had more deaths, but more freedom to balance it out. Those 1,900 additional deaths were the price of freedom to go maskless and gather in groups.

That issue of freedom vs. cost has divided the state and nation. The family and friends of the deceased might question whether the small increase in freedom was worth their suffering and the lives of their loved ones. But many South Dakotans support the governor’s decision that this freedom is so important that fewer than 2,000 lives lost was a small price to pay to keep that freedom for the other 800,000 South Dakotans.

So this Memorial Day, no matter which you believe, please take time to remember the fallen Covid people that preserved our freedom to go maskless and gather in large groups. Freedom is not free.

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John Cunningham

Sioux Falls

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