Freedom has a price

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On the bus. One last look.

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Specialist Cody Sears shares a farewell embrace with daughter Layla Sears.

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A soldier takes the first step of a long, difficult journey.

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Clinging to a stuffed toy, Madison Shell, 8, watches the bus depart.

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A soldier makes a final check of his gear before shipping out.

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Sgt. Brad Foster cuddles his 3-month-old son, Neeley Foster, in a tender goodbye.

Freedom is often paid for with casualties.

Death and injury are quick to demand their toll - flag draped caskets, crippled men and women or the hidden injuries that will be be suffered for years to come.

But there is another price of war.

Like death, it gives no refunds.

During the next 14 months, Neeley, the 3-month-old son of Sgt. Brad Foster, will most likely cut his first teeth, eat his first solid food, take his first steps, speak his first words.

Time is the casualty that all deployed personnel will pay.

Movies and songs have tried to romanticize it - a solider in uniform kissing a lover goodbye, followed years later with a homecoming embrace.

But as 50 members of the Oregon Army National Guard 1186th Military Police Company hugged and kissed their children goodbye, there was no romanticizing their farewells.

Time just clicked on its meter and started collecting its price for freedom.

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