Many things in life are seldom missed until they’re taken away. So it is with individual liberties. When I graduated from high school, I left home to join the US Army. As any veteran or currently serving member knows, basic training is designed to break down individuals and rebuild them into components of a unit. My experience was no different. Something as simple as calling home to talk to mom and dad was a luxury. Internet, email, favorite TV shows, the simple freedom to leave and go someplace else (that wasn’t on the drill sergeant’s agenda), even drinking a soda were all things I never considered to be “freedoms” until they were taken away on the day I put on Army green.
Basic training spanned over the 4th of July holiday for me. I can remember our company being given a special “treat” on the day America celebrated her independence. We marched onto a field, in hot uniforms, and were given the chance to watch an evening fireworks display—seated on the ground in straight lines of course. The display went on for about a half hour. As I watched the brilliant colors explode across the night sky and reflect on the faces of my fellow soldiers, I realized for the first day in weeks, we weren’t being yelled at, weren’t doing pushups, and weren’t given detailed instructions on what exactly we were supposed to do. We just sat, enjoyed the moment, and relished in freedom before returning to the remaining weeks of our training.
I and many others willingly gave up these basic freedoms in order to serve as part of a military force that swears, above all else, to protect and defend the US Constitution. We swear to obey all lawfully issued orders—not allegiance to a single person. We bear the burden of service so that others would not have to bear it. I’ve since returned to civilian life, and I see too often that people are willing to trade away their individual freedoms in exchange for the fleeting stability of a government program or a promise of benefits or for “the greater good.”
On Independence Day, think for a moment on what it means to be free. Does the picture you form in your mind include the government telling you what size soda you can buy and sell? Does it include bureaucrats banning lemonade stands and bake sales? Does it include the government telling parents what they can and can’t put into a lunch their child takes to school? Does it include a government that tells people who they can and can’t marry or what people can and can’t do with their own bodies? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are said to be rights that are inalienable to us. They can’t be taken away, nor can the government “grant” them to us. It is government’s fundamental job to protect these rights and not destroy them while pursuing a self-proclaimed and self-serving notion of a “greater good.”
We should not allow the government to freely intrude on our freedoms. We must demand and hold elected officials accountable for the choices they make on our behalf and how they carry the torch of freedom—whether they hold it high and let it shine brightly or whether they try to dim its eternal flame. Mankind was meant to be free. That’s why I founded Freedom Forge Press—to find people’s stories of freedom, their essays and their cautionary tales and showcase them for all to see and so that the torch of freedom is able to shine ever brightly.
What do you associate with freedom? Leave a comment below, and have a great Fourth of July!
-Eric, Freedom Forge Press