Thank you America, for your gift of Freedom
On this 240th celebration of America’s Day of Independence, I cannot help but think of the amazing journey our citizens have walked to create and preserve the greatest social experiment in the history of the world. The birth of our nation started with a group of courageous men, branded as traitors, willing to stand against the tyranny of a modern day empire. Led by one man, who unified a rag tag militia, a disjointed Congress, and defied all odds to bring about the birth of the United States of America. After the Victory at Yorktown, citizens wanted to deify him and make him a King, but only God could have chosen a more humble servant of Freedom and Opportunity. George Washington served his time as our first President helping to shape our great nation and its future. A future that promised that all men are created equal and promised life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Since those initial years of grit and sacrifice, heroism and courage, leadership and conviction, millions of immigrants have heard the tales of Freedom and Opportunity and left their homelands for the American Dream. They arrived by boat, years later to arrive at the copper clad feet of our most famous icon of Freedom, a gift from our French allies.
As they arrived, they were awestruck at the sight of her; welcoming them proudly, holding her tablets and hoisting her torch high above her head in all her glorious splendor. As they stepped off the ships, they were awestruck and filled with hope at the thought of their new lives as they read the words at Lady Liberty’s base.
Bring me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
They stepped away with hope for they knew they had just walked through the golden door and the new road of opportunity they walked upon was marked with a road sign that bore the name -Freedom.
Those early Americans came from all over the world in pursuit of the American Dream; recognizing that hard work and dedication, coupled with Freedom would enable them great success. While they proudly displayed their heritage, they embraced the fact that they were all now Americans, and were united as citizens under the Red, White, and Blue. When tyranny and oppression presented themselves at home or abroad, they stood united again and again to fight for the American Dream and Freedom because at the highest level they recognized one simple fact; Freedom is not a right. It must be fostered, nurtured, preserved, and in the darkest times, it must be fought for. They recognized that Freedom is a Gift.
240 years later, I feel that too many Americans have lost sight of their gift of Freedom. Too many Americans wake up every day thinking that their Freedom will always be there for them because it is their right and they give it no more thought than the air they breathe in every day. Some of it is ignorance. Some of it is selfishness and some of it is apathy. It is an unfortunate fact though that apathy will destroy a nation faster than any war ever can.
I have had the privilege in my military career to travel all over the world. I have seen the best and worst mankind has to offer. In many countries around the world, they do not have running water, or electricity, or even opportunity for those things. Many places there are no books or schools and in many other places I have been to, if they do have schools, you cannot attend if you are a woman or not from a certain social class. We have none of that here. That is why people from all over the world continue to look to America as the great opportunity, for the principles of the American Dream still resonate strongly around the world and still apply today.
It is unfortunate that some people have grown to hate America for her success and even more unfortunate that some of our politicians have bought into this malignant kind of thinking. These same politicians fail to recognize that America has more of her sons and daughters buried on foreign soil around the world in her efforts to assist and preserve Freedom than every other modern day nation combined. These people are the types of people who have never seen the true face of Freedom. They are certain politicians and celebrities who have been chauffeured around and shone veiled versions of society in restricted areas of the world. They have lost sight of the true gift of Freedom. Only those of us who have been down into the deep dark recesses of oppressive societies, where in the midst of the darkness and the oppression, you catch a fleeting glimpse in the dirty face of a child, the true hope of opportunity, the Freedom that shines through the darkest night, a spotlight that burns out of the darkest hell and it is those moments, like here on Independence Day, I always recognize our gift and know we live in the greatest country in the world.
It is in those moments I would like to say to my fellow Americans who have lost sight, “Freedom is not a right, it is a gift. You need to always recognize your gift of Freedom because you may never have another opportunity, so you give every ounce, knowing what gifts you have been given, what opportunities you have been presented, what Freedoms you have, that have been paid for with the blood of American Warriors. There are so many people in this world that are never given the opportunity that you have right now, so they hang their aspirations on you to make both America and the world a better place.
So on this 240th celebration of our nation’s Independence, as you celebrate with your barbecues, on your boats, in your backyards, with your fireworks, honor the grit and sacrifice that enabled it. Speak the two words that epitomize America’s Independence; Freedom and Opportunity. Let them roll off your lips and touch the ears of those who bask and enjoy American Freedom. I fought for it. Friends fought and died for it. Will you now fight with me to preserve our future? To preserve 240 more years of Freedom and Opportunity?
Happy 4th of July America. I will never stop fighting for your greatness.