At some point, almost every day, between just before opening my eyes in the morning and sipping my coffee while watching the sunrise, I am struck by how lucky I am to be an American.
I thought it would be a simple thing to write about what freedom means to me, but it isn’t. Because I have made a career of preserving freedoms and fighting for liberties, I have seen thousands of infringements… and that was just this morning. It would be easy to say that knowing that I have the blessing of our Constitution to back me up is my definition of freedom, but it isn’t. Freedom is those moments when I don’t have to be cognizant of the need for that protection.
Shorter, better than I could have said it:
“I am interested in politics so that one day I will not have to be interested in politics.” – Ayn Rand
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” – Thomas Paine
238 years ago, Americans made a statement to the world. It wasn’t written on paper, it was written on the hearts of the men and women who believed they could decide for themselves how best to live their own lives. It was written in blood, sweat and tears on battlefields and on homesteads in lonely, dangerous, uncharted land. It was a statement that was shouted down in word and deed by those who hoped to hold power and by those afraid to seize their own. It was radical and irrational – a Declaration of Independence. Not a whisper, not a petition. A declaration…and the will to stand behind it, against impossible odds. But here we are, Americans. If you allow yourself five minutes to think of it, how can your chest not swell and your resolve not strengthen against ANY adversity?
Happenstance of being born in the Last Frontier aside, I have seen a great deal of our beautiful country: purple mountains majesty, amber waves of grain, both shining seas, and the highways and byways between them. I have met people rich and poor, young and old, and have broken bread with people of many races and religions. I have owned property, started businesses, protested governments small and large, and stood side by side with friends, neighbors and strangers at fairs, picnics, sporting events and in fights for liberties and to give voice to the grievances of many. I have had the freedom to do those things. Amazing.
As idyllic as all of that sounds, it’s how I feel. There are plenty who will tell you that America isn’t much different from other Western nations, but we are. America leads. We trade in ideas made real by an inherent and inherited sense of “anything is possible.”
Because I am the one writing this, it wouldn’t be complete without musical accompaniment. And, because I routinely spend my Independence Day with family in a small town, doing small town Independence Day things, I can’t think of a better song that sums it all up for me. Happy Independence Day, America!
Freedom: 1. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. 2. absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. 3. the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. 4. liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another. 5. boldness of conception or execution.
See also: autonomy. liberty. independence. sovereignty. emancipation.
Freedom isn’t a passive fantasy. It’s American. God bless us.