“My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side, let freedom ring”.
Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to this song in 1831. It later became known as America and was one of several national anthems for a short while. The melody came from Thomas Arne of England where the tune was created for the queen. In 1963, Martin Luther King gave his famously inspired speech, I Have A Dream, wherein he reminded us to let freedom ring amidst a backdrop of racial inequality and segregation. Dr. King eventually paid the ultimate price for the freedom he dreamed about. So have many others.
There is a saying that goes like this, ” Freedom is a luxury not everyone can afford “. In America we state our freedoms as rights and not privileges of the few. How blessed we are to enjoy such liberties. We are free to worship, vote, protest, write whatever we want, say whatever we want, and pretty much do whatever we want (within reason and the context of the law). We are free to think, to achieve, and simply to be.
Thomas Campbell reminds us of the cost of liberty when he wrote, ” The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree “. Since the birth of our nation to the present, Americans have shed their blood for freedom’s sake…for you and for me. Whether you hop in your car on a whim and drive across the great expanse to see the waves crash against the shoreline or sit in a lawn chair sipping a glass of iced tea after you just mowed the grass of your own lawn-these are fruits of freedom we seldom consider as such. But they are fruits of the most precious kind because they involve a personal sense of well-being that oppression can never provide. We enjoy what others have fought for.
So, as we celebrate this Fourth of July, our Independence Day, let us pause and consider the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our benefit. Generations past, present and future are all recipients of other’s heroic deeds. Whether on the home front or the front lines, sacrifices have been, and are being made. We can all do little things to express our gratitude for the defenders of our liberties: hug a vet, shake the hand of a soldier, assist those left behind, encourage the distressed.
Inscribed on the Liberty Bell is a quote from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10, which states, Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof . May we be so bold to proclaim and defend our freedoms, for future generations are depending on us to do so until they can take up the mantel. Sometimes this means going to war. It also means to fight for our constitutional rights which are periodically attacked from forces within. One thing is certain; anyone who has been deprived of personal freedoms cherishes them. They will fight to keep them, and not simply for themselves, but for the sake of their neighbors, as well. Defenders of freedom aren’t selfish.
Let freedom ring loud and clear…I like the sound of that. It reminds me of WW II movies when towns were liberated from a sinister enemy and the church bells would ring and ring in celebration of regaining lost freedom. I thank God for living in a country where freedoms abound. If you do not know such liberty, may you find freedom from above where no enemy can steal your soul even though you may not be allowed to speak your heart. Let freedom ring!