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From Every Mountain Side, Let Freedom Ring


July 11, 2010 by wcobserver

by Alison Grisham

The Fourth of July is a time for sparklers and celebration; for the music of John Phillip Sousa, patriotism and the waving of American Flags.   It is a time to eat watermelon, attend parades and put cold drinks on ice.  Friends and family gather in back yards, on lakes and on rooftops bedecked in red, white and blue.  Children play with pinwheels and families watch fireworks light up the night sky.  In short, we celebrate America by displaying and enjoying the best of her.

But on this day of our nation’s birth, the Day of our Independence, it’s worth reflecting on the bravery and determination of those who achieved it.

The colonists that paved the way for our independence were not seasoned soldiers.  They were ordinary men and women like us.  They were families who survived by their own wits and whether they lived or died depended on perseverance and sheer will.  In a time when people hunted for survival and sewed for warmth, in a time that demanded stout-hearted resolve just to endure, ordinary people found the courage to rise up together and fight for autonomy and self-governance. They fought for the right to be truly free.

The Declaration of Independence stood as a public outcry, a disclosure of intolerable and unjust laws that could no longer be abided. It was a notice to all that, the colonists intended to be recognized as an independent country no matter what the sacrifice.  By their Declaration they formed the only country ever to be born from an idea and a commitment to idealism.

But ultimately, freedom and liberty give us more than just our sovereignty.  They also give us responsibility.  Freedom gives us the right to make decisions, to create, to pursue happiness.  It also calls upon us to consider the general well-being of others and to consider the consequences of our actions.  Freedom isn’t a license to be impetuous; it is the belief that we can be trusted to consider the big picture and then guide ourselves accordingly.  Perhaps Theodore Roosevelt put it best when he said, “Freedom is that instant between when someone tells you to do something and when you decide how to respond. However, order without liberty and liberty without order are equally destructive.”

To that end, the Declaration of Independence challenges Americans to achieve and reminds us that there are no barriers in our way, apart from those that we erect for ourselves.

This weekend when celebrating the Fourth of July, let’s remember what our country was built on.  We may be struggling in our economy.  We may be struggling personally or professionally.  But what we always have in this country is opportunity. We always have a chance to make tomorrow better than today through our own determination and force of will.  In fact, we have the responsibility to do it because we are the caretakers of a gift called freedom.  Let us celebrate our country, not just by being proud of where we live, but as Abe Lincoln calls us to do, by living so our country can be proud of us.



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