Legacy of Freedom
Unashamedly patriotic, I quickly tear up at the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Goosebumps fill my arms when I walk through the hallways at school as 700 students recite the pledge together in the mornings. Hearing songs such as “America the Beautiful”, “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” makes my heart skip a beat. Since this is the week of our Independence Day, it is on my heart that we should be ever more grateful for the freedoms that this country was founded upon. I’m not convinced that we have done a great job of emphasizing to our children and grandchildren what an incredible gift we have been given as Americans.
So many events over the past few weeks have brought to mind the fact that we continue to fight to keep our freedoms on a daily basis. People who advocate for gay marriage want the freedom to marry whomever they want, and people who reject gay marriage want the freedom to refuse to acknowledge it. Democrats want the freedom to vote their conscience, and Republicans want the freedom to vote theirs. Some parents want the freedom not to vaccinate their children, and others want the freedom to know that the people around them are protected against disease.
All of us want the freedom to worship safely. We want to be able to walk down the street knowing that we are protected. We want to be able to travel to destinations without fear of being threatened. We want freedom to become educated and to teach our children. We want to dress the way we want to, eat the things we enjoy and surround ourselves with people that we care about. All of these freedoms have come to us as a high cost. The price has been the sacrifice of lives of those who have gone before us and some who continue to fight for freedom around the world.
What I have found most disturbing in recent days is the way that we treat one another if we have differing views. We want the freedom to live our lives according to our own opinions, but we do not respect the rights of others to feel differently. Our country was founded on the principal that “all men are created equal,” and yet we continue to struggle for racial equality. Part of our Constitution claims that we wish to “insure domestic tranquility,” yet we struggle to get along even within our own borders. We disrespect the very people who have been elected to represent us, and the public servants who have agreed to protect us.
For the first time in our history, this year the millennial generation with overtake the baby boomer generation. When I see how many people in the next generation have been enticed into terrorism against our great country, or have perpetrated crimes against other races even within our own land, I wonder if perhaps we have failed somehow to help them realize how incredibly blessed we are to live in America. Maybe we haven’t taught them to be loving toward their neighbors, regardless of skin color or political views. People cross our borders every day to get a glimpse of life in “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” and yet our own citizens take it for granted every single day.
This July 4th, my challenge to all of us is to stop and take a moment to be thankful for every single freedom that we enjoy. To learn to be tolerant and loving toward our fellow Americans. To try to remember and appreciate the lives that have been lost in an attempt to provide those freedoms for us. To raise our flags high and acknowledge that we are each an important part of the greatest country on earth. And to never forget to pass these important truths on to the next generation, for unless we take on that responsibility they may never fully appreciate the incredible gift they have been given.