What is Freedom?
When I was younger I believed that freedom, independence would come when I gained my driver’s license and I could come and go as I pleased. While the ability to drive did offer some freedom and independence, I still had a curfew, laws I had to obey and responsibilities that came with that freedom.
Today, as we celebrate the anniversary of our freedom from Britain, our day of Independence, I have to wonder if we are truly free. Freedom, to be unfettered, released, unburdened, is not possible. If you own a home, a car, have a job or a family, you know responsibility often outweighs freedom. We have the choice to be free but that freedom also comes with a price. The responsibility of freedom is often a heavy burden. The price is paid by soldiers, politicians, citizens…too often, the price of freedom is paid by those who can least afford the cost. Families whose loved ones go off to war, children in poverty because their parents chose their personal freedom over the burden of taking care of them, or their government’s greed overshadowed the needs of its citizens. Freedom isn’t free.
Yet, today of all days, as we celebrate our independence as a country let us not forget that by choosing to be free someone has to pay the price. Sacrifices must be made to gain our freedom. The men and women who fought wars, the slaves and immigrants who built this country, the business people, inventors and visionaries who imagined a better way of life, each sacrificed something to gain that freedom. Even today we know that our freedom often comes at a cost to others. Freedom of religion means even those who we do not agree with, have that same freedom. Freedom of speech allows those with opposing views to say what they think. With each freedom we express, sacrifices must be made.
As we celebrate our Independence Day, remember those who made the sacrifices and those who are still paying the price for freedom. To our forefathers and mothers who risked death, loss of property, family to an idea that all men are created equal. To those who still battle to say we are all men, to the women who have fought alongside their men folk who were forgotten in the pages of history, to the slaves and immigrants who generations later are still struggling to gain their independence, let Freedom Reign.
To misquote Dr. King, let me end with no one is free until all are free. Freedom, if not in fact, let it be in spirit. Let us judge our countrymen not by race, religion or sexual preference but by their contribution to our country. Let us unite as a people greater than our parts. I’m proud to be an American, though not always proud of our choices. We are not perfect but we strive for a perfect union. Let us put aside our differences and celebrate our combined heritage of independence.
Happy Independence Day!