Whether it's all the men and women in the military protecting our freedoms across the world, or those law enforcement or emergency service personnel helping to safeguard us on the home front, we owe a great deal to the many brave souls who wear the American flag patch on their uniforms.

The latest to fall during duty was Officer Joseph David, who was struck by a vehicle Wednesday while directing traffic around a disabled vehicle in Nesquehoning. The Jim Thorpe and Mahoning Township officer suffered a shattered leg but thankfully, the protective vest he was wearing saved him from even more serious injury.

Because David is a part-time officer, he doesn't receive medical benefits. Therefore, an "Officer David Fund" has been set up at the MCT Bank on 1111 North Street in Jim Thorpe to handle donations which will go toward his medical expenses.

While Officer David was doing his job locally when he was struck in the line of duty, another one of our protectors in uniform, Army SPC Robert Kislow, is being honored in Danielsville tomorrow for his sacrifice on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The 2004 graduate of Northampton High School was only two months into his first deployment in June of 2005 when his patrol was attacked by a large group of Taliban fighters in a mountainous area near the Pakistan border.

Kislow was shot five times, which caused Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and required the amputation of his right leg. Just as in the recent case regarding police officer David, Kislow's bulletproof vest appears to have been a life-saver. While David's police vest protected him in the traffic accident last Wednesday, the one Kislow was wearing on the battlefield in Afghanistan protected him from taking bullets to his body.

It will be an emotional time tomorrow when Kislow receives the keys to his specially-built home, courtesy of Homes For Our Troops, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans. The special features in the home will allow Kislow maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently.

Because of the sacrifices of protectors like police Officer David and Army SPC Robert Kislow, we too enjoy a "freedom of movement" to travel about this country without restriction, a fact that makes this nation the most envied in the world but a freedom many of us take for granted while living out our own "independent" lives.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com