A Lesson On How Freedom Is Earned….

April 16, 2007

The story below is a true story. It is a story full of inspiration. It is a story of a woman who really understands what it means to “Support The Troops.” It is a story that gives hope, that by the teachings of this woman, Martha Cothren, some young Americans will reach adulthood knowing the true price of freedom…..

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha
Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in
Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of
school, with permission of the school superintendent and the
principal, she took all of the desks out of the classroom.

The students came into first period and discovered there were no

They looked around and asked, “Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?”

She replied, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she answered.

“Maybe it’s our behavior.”

She told them, “No, it’s not your behavior.”

And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the

Second period, same thing and third period-no desks. By early
afternoon, television news crews had gathered in Ms. Cothren’s class
to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out
of the classroom. The last period of the day, Martha Cothren
gathered her class. They were at this time sitting on the floor
around the sides of the room.

She stated to her students, “Throughout the day no one has really
understood how you earn the desks that ordinarily sit in this

She added, “Now I’m going to show you.”

Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.

27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom,
each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks
in rows, and then they stood along the walls. By the time they had
finished placing those desks, those kids for the first time
understood how they earned those desks. FREEDOM!

Martha said, “You don’t have to earn those desks. These guys did it
for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit
here responsibly to learn, to be good students and good citizens,
because they paid a price for you to have that desk to sit in and to
learn and don’t ever forget it.”

I received this yesterday and wanted to share it with everyone. I wish that every school in this great Nation had teachers like Martha Cothren teaching in them. Teaching our children the true price of the freedoms that we as US citizens enjoy. When I first read this, I was a bit skeptical and wasn’t sure that it was true, so I did some checking and found that indeed, Martha Cothren did this to teach her history class. Martha Cothren is the daughter of a World War II POW and regularly has Veterans visit her classroom, when teaching her students about World War II and the Vietnam War.

This isn’t all that Martha Cothren has done to impart to her students the true meaning of selfless service and sacrifice. In May 2005, she and her students organized a Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Week, holding an official Thank You ceremony in the gymnasium of their school. The event was attended by not only Vietnam Veterans, but also veterans from World War II and the Korean War. During that week, as veterans told their stories, the students videotaped these stories in order to preserve them for future generations to hear. Cothren and her students are also active in sending letters and care packages to the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2006, the VFW honored Martha Cothren as the 2006 Teacher of the Year, an award she so richly deserves.

I hope that the story of Martha Cothren’s lesson about how freedom is earned will inspire each of us to strive to follow her example. Thank You Martha Cothren for imparting to your students the true meaning of how freedom is earned.

The story can be verified at Snopes


9 Responses to “A Lesson On How Freedom Is Earned….”

  1. devildog6771 on April 16th, 2007 6:33 am

    What an inspiring story. Those kids do not know how lucky they are. Many schools have teachers that are so far slanted to the left they do not belong teaching teaching high school and grade school kids. They teach the kids to be non patriotic and onappreciative of the sacrifices made to build our country into what it is today! Thank you for sharing this teacher’s story.

    I was very lucky in school. I had the same teacher in the 8th and 10th grades. Fortunately she did not hold it against me that I was a bit of slougher in 8th grade and a hellion to boot. She went to Europe during the summer after 8th grade. She toured all the Concentration Camps. She brought back actual pictures of the Camps, the ovens, everything. She brought back actual pictures of the piles of dead bodies, the mass graves, the “survivors!”

    She taught us about how the wars got started and how much was actually left unresolved and led to the next war. She taught us about responsibilities of citizenship. I had a 99.9 grade for the year in her class. I loved it so much she was hardpressed at times to find a quetion I couldn’t answer. She evn went so far as to throw in extra questions on tests for those like me who had such a thirst to learn.

    I am only sorry I never told her how much she taught me. How much she inspired me even to this day to always seek knowledge and learn.

  2. Tracy on April 16th, 2007 6:38 am

    Very inspiring story. We need more teachers like her!

  3. Terri on April 16th, 2007 6:45 am

    Yes we do. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was a requirement of all teachers to be like Martha Cothren?

  4. Joe on April 20th, 2007 8:32 am

    Sometimes actions speak louder than any words. This teacher was able to convey such a powerful message with so few comments. Funny how she has many of the same qualities as many of our heros. This country needs more of our heros to step up and make a difference like this one, thank you.

  5. Jenni on October 16th, 2007 11:08 pm

    I am a veteran of the first Gulf War. I would be HONORED to do this for every class in every school in a fifty mile radius if the message was sent as clearly and concisely as this was. Maybe a move should be started to do this in one town, district, whatever, across the country every single veterans day from now on. Freedom isn’t free, and I still “bleed green” as we said in the Army. I am tired of the liberal slant to teaching, I fight against it in my own children’s schools every time it comes up. Big government is NOT the answer, our founding fathers had it right in giving the majority of the rights to the states and thus to the people of said states. If the left would take the time to actually read the Constitution and realize what it actually says, the States were afraid of big govrnment and worded this amazing document very carefully to keep the power in the hands of the people, NOT the federal government!

    Just my 2 cents…

  6. Terri on October 17th, 2007 4:24 am

    Thank you Jenni for your service. I think we’re seeing more and more in the schools that adminstrators are so afraid of being “politically correct” that they go so far, that they end up not being politically correct at all, but instead offend just as many people and violate the rights of just as many in the process.

  7. mitchell corbett on April 2nd, 2008 11:14 pm

    i was one of the incredibly lucky students that was in her class at the time she did this demonstration and it was amazing. i try to go back and see her as much as i can but sadly college has taken all of my time. this great story is just another piece of how great Martha Cothren really is, both as a teacher and as a person.

  8. DJ on April 21st, 2008 12:07 pm

    Maybe it’s time to step back a moment. What this teacher did is wonderful, wise, and very much in line with great teaching. However…I must take some exception to those who decry most teachers and schools as “liberally slanted”. Considering that our current Commander in Chief and his advisory group have done much to undermine our Constitution –which is the fundamental definition of treason– in the name of conservatism’s values, perhaps we need to stop and realize that “liberal” is by no means synonymous with “bad”, “evil”, or “wrong”. Supporting the troops does not mean supporting a specific war, a specific party, a specific political ideology, or a specific Commander-in-Chief’s policies.

    And yes, I am a veteran.

  9. Terri on April 21st, 2008 4:06 pm

    First and foremost DJ, thank you for your service. However, I think you’re missing the entire meaning of this post DJ. For me, when making this post, it was to illustrate something fundamental that is slowly being eroded away in our country. That is the respect and honor that should be given to our Troops and why they deserve that respect and honor. Respect and honor that many times is not given.

    This post has nothing to do with our Commander in Chief, or any other politician for that matter, and I won’t go there with you. I was not attempting to make a political statement with this story and I don’t feel that Mrs. Cothren was when she did what she did in her class.

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